THE GAMING AND LOTTERIES ACT.
Our readers will no doubt h»ve observed a telegram stating that the Colonial Secretary haß issued a notice intimated that all existing totalisator licenses will be recalled or terminating oa lst July next. Ihe* inference frond* this, we imagine, is that the Government propose to bring before Parliament the question of whether or not the use of the totalisator is to continue to be legalised, and if so under wbat conditions. It is, we think, quite well that the subject shouid.be discussed, the more especially that on this occasion there will be arguments to be drawn from ex perience as well as from tifeory. What the result of the reopening of the question .may be or is likely to be we do not venture to predict, but we think that if the matter of the Gaming and Lotteries Act is once more brought before the House then it will be well that the opportunity should be taken to recon*,. eider, as well as those clauses which relate to the totalisator, those also whioh deal with •onsultations. Undoubtedly, the. very best feature of the measure was the putting down of these things within the Oolony, but it now appears that the business is only " scotched " and not " killed," and that consultationists have discovered a method of driving the proverbial " coach and six " through the barriers of the Aot m question. The way the thing is done is explained by j our Oamaru evening contemporary as j follows :— " Thomas Stapleton, who, when • consultations ' were legal m New Zealand, oarried on a very large business m that line m Christohurch, under the norn de plume - of* ' Uobin Hood/ ha_ taken up his residence iv Sydney, From that City, he has just forwarded to thia colony, circulars notifying that _he has re oommenoed business m the consultation, line m deference to the '.-.j ' general wish among the thousands who like to invest their half-sovereign or £1, and who have continued to send their money to consultationists m iSew South Wales;* Ue also announces his first consultation of 4000 subscribers at 10a each/ Thuß Mr Stapleton is defying the Gaming and - -Lottorioa Amflndte_m,t-,Agt_.-Which was I passed m 1881 at the instigation of some not overwise political reformers. That Aot saji that • Where any letter, circular, telegram, placard, handbill, or card is sent, exhibited, or published, Whereby it is made to appear that any person, either m JNew Zealand, or elsewhere, will, on application, give information or advice . ... for the purpose or with respect to any sweepstake or any lottery or scheme similar thereto, or will make on behalf of any other person any suoh bet or wager as iB mentioned m the said Act, or will on behalf of any other person take part m any sweepstake, or take any ticket m any lottery or scheme similar thereto . . , every person sending, exhibiting, or publishing, or causing the same to be sent, exhibited, or published, shall be liable to a penalty up to £50 lor each offence, or to be imprisoned for any term Up to tWO months | with or without hard labor. The Act also provides that letters containing money, etc., addressed to the proprietor of a sweepstake, or consultation, either by his own or any assumed name, may be detained by the Postmaster-General; and that any person vino buys a ticket m any lottery, or takes part m any lottery, is liable to a tine of £10. It will be seen that the Aot says that no person, whoever he may be— though he may be located m Siberia — oan, m New Zealand, solicit patronage for a lottery without either being fined or imprisoned. Yet Mr Stapleton posts his lottery circulars, eta, m open envelopes m Sydney, and they Are delivered by the Postal Department m New Zealand. The reason of this is that, whilst the Aot lays down tha|, letters posted m New Zealand by a •consaltationist' may be stopped ii de tected, yet letters posted by a ' consul tationist' to people m this colony are not interfered with. Thus the Government are actually an instrument for giving publicity to lotteries, though the Act stipulates that any person exhibiting, publishing, or causing to be exhibited or published, any placard, handbill, eto., m connection with a lottery, or taking any part m any lottery, shall be liable to any penalty up to £§0 or to imprisonment for any term up to two months, with or without hard labor. Hence the whole Postal Department and the Government have renderod themselves liable to be cast into prison — this is a hint for the Opposition if they want a spell of office. But, though ther® may be some necessity to distribut o -M-" /Staple ton's notification?, notwitbetauding the law, iB that portion of tho Act whioh lays down that any person, 'either m New Zealand or elsewhere guilty of issuing such notifications, is to be fined or imprisoned,' also inoperative? The whole Act seems to be one of the moßt futile efforts at moral legislation of | which our Parliament has over been guilty. Mr Stapleton, and the follow ] Wallace (who, it is said, has not a | superabundance of honesty,) snap thoir i fingers at us, and our people still < indulge m consultations, the only difference being that the money is sent ■ out of the' colony,* and tho bulk of it I remains there! Common sense dictates that the law on the subject should either bo rendered m some measure effective, t or repealed." The first of these two l alternatives — that of making the law j effectual— will we think commend itself t td all rifcht-thfuking inea w the one I whieb ghoulcj bo Ukeo, » j
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