THE GOVERNMENT AND THE TOTALISATOR.
Much as we should prefer to see the national sport of horse racing altogether disassociated from the practice of, m some way or other, staking money on the results, we yet recognise, that until a complete revolution is effected m the habits of the people this cannot be accomplished ; and that if the general public will insist upon being permitted to have a pecuniary interest m the performances of the horses, then the only thing. that remains for our law-makers is to see that this is carried out m the least objectionable ,„ and mischievous form. And if the choice of the Legislature is to be as between sanctioning bookmakers and betting, and the use of the totalisator, then on the principle "Of two evils, choose tbe lesser," we think that Parliament is right m choosing the machine rather than the hawks of the betting ring. Maybe the time will come when a more wholesome pnblio opinion will abolish the instrument also, but meantime, and so long as the totalisator is a lawful apparatus, the Government do w«ll m endeavouring to secure that it shall be only used under rules calculated to prevent the gross abuses which have hitherto existed, and to which attention has frequently been drawn by the press — as for example the getting up of so-called race meetings for the purpose of running the machine rather than the horses, if the weeds attracted to such gatherings deserve to be called horses at all. With this view we observe that the following circular letter has been addressed from the Colonial Secretary's Office to the various Resident Magistrates :— "The attention of the Government has been drawn to the evils which attend the excessive use of the totalisator at the race meetings all over the colony. It would almost seem as if no amount of added, money could be too small, the population of no district could be too sparse, no meeting pould be too insignificant to obtain a license to use. the instrument. As by section 46 of the Gaming and Lotteries Act, 1881, the question of whether a license should be granted or not is made to depend upon ili<s recommendation of the senior resident magistrate of the principal town m the provincial district m which the racing club is established, lam instructed to suggest for your consideration that, m all cases of reference to you, it would be advisable that you should, m making your report and recommendation, take into consideration the following points t 1. The application should m all cases be endorsed by the recommendation of the stewards of the Metropolitan .Racing Club. 2. The races should be held under the rules of the Metropolitan Club. 3. The amount of publlo money added to stakes should never be less than £160 at any meeting. : 4. Licenses should never be given to use the totalisator at a pony race, or a trotting race, or hack race meeting j nor at a meeting proposed to be b,eld m an isolated place, where the surrounding population is not sufficiently large to furnish a tolerably numerous attendance at tjie meeting. 5. License to use the totalisator should not be given to any club other than the Metropolitan Club, for more than three meetings m a year. 6. Each recommendation should be for a specific occasion, and not m general terms, for meetings to be held under the auspices of any club,. The Colonial Secretary quite recognises that m such a case as this, where the responsibility of making a reoommendation is thrown by law upon a specified officer, it is not within the right of a Minister to fetter that officer with particular instructions as to how his statutory duty should be performed ; but the Government are of opinion that it is desirable that uniformity of action should characterise the practice m reference to these licenses, and that the existing state of the morals of the turf will probably be improved by an observance, on the part of tbe officers charged with the doty of recommending the issue of licenses, of the principles embodied m the rules above indioated." We give tbte text of the above letter (for which we ore indebted to the " Now Zealand ' Herald ") m full, because the matter m question is one of great interpst to all racing men, indeed, to ail who are lovers of sport, even though they would object to be classed under t'ia fc denomination, and we shall bo very glad to open our columns to any criticisms of the Colonial Secretary's ideas and proposals, or to any suggestions having for their object the pointing out of a better way of reduoing to a minimum the admitted evils attending the übq or abuse of the tqUjigator,
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