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THE Totalizator Repeal Bill has received the Governor's assent, as our readers are aware, and will come into operation on the first day of June next. It will be
remembered tliat the totalizator received legal toleration with the hope that it would largely diminish the evils of indiscrimi nate betting ; but after several years1 trial many persons were of opinion that the desired improvement had not been effected, and others considered that even if the machine had expelled bookmakers the remedy was as bad as or worse than the disease. When the second reading of the Repeal Bill was under discussion in tl:e Assembly, Mr. Rounsevell expressed himself somewhat unfavorably towards the n.easure, but promised that it should have liis support if a clause were added pro hibiting public betting on racecourses. He and one or two like-minded legislators spoke in such moving terms of the moral and material mischief wrought by turf gambling among our young men, that the Attorney-General was deeply affected, and his feelings found expression in the fol lowing clause :—" Every person betting, or offering to bet, by way of wagering or gaming, in any public place, or in any place to which the public are or shall be permitted to have access, whether on payment of money or other wise, or in any such place getting up or taking part in any sweepstakes, or pub lishing, or causing to be published in any public newspaper, or by circular, any advertisement inviting the public to sub scribe to or take j>art in any bet or sweep stakes, shall be liable to a penalty of not less than forty shillings nor more than one hundred pounds; and for a second offence shall be deemed a rogue and a vagabond within the true intent and meaning of the Police Act, 1860, and as such may be convicted and punished." Surely the full effect of this drastic clause has hardly been realised by those who assisted to make it law, and those whom, if it is not to be a dead letter, it will concern. Some worthy divines and other good people have on public plat forms expressed their gratification at the passing of this enactment, but they must be very sanguine people if they imagine it will be enforced. It is the product of beautiful sentiments, and it will always remain a senti ment and nothing more. Possibly one or two bookmakers will be proceeded against successfully, but afterwards they will become a little more cautious in their proceedings, and the police utterly care less, and the clause will soon be regarded as a simple joke. We have often been Informed that the Property Tax Bill would create a nation of liars, and while this proposition might fairly be demurred to, no one can reasonably doubt that the anti-gaming Act of 1883 would, if enforced, convert a large proportion of the com munity into rrgues and vagabonds. Some people, who in other respects lead ex emplary lives, cannot be brought to see the enormity of going in for a half-crown sweep on a race, and possibly the first tine of forty shillings might not deter them from arepetition of the offence. Now even a goody-goody person might be shocked to hear of a respectable citizen, perhaps with family responsibilities, expiating such a transgression in Her Majesty's gaoL But the public would be still more startled were the law to be put in force on the grand stand, where, sad to say, the gentler sex cannot resist the temptation to stake a trifle upon the speed of an equine favorite. It is doubtful whether even an appearancebeforeMr. Beddome would cure them of this propensity; the probability is that with true feminine obstinacy they would infringe the law again, and there would be presented the distressing spectacle of come magisterial Rhadaman thus sentencing a fair gambler or sweep stake holder, perhaps one of the belles of society, as a rogue and vagabond to seven days 1 solitary confinement in Mr. HoweU's establishment, with only the cold comfort of bread and water. It is said that the law is only intended to apply to professional bookmakers ; but the intention of a statute must be gathered from its words, not from an arbitrary inter pretation that has no warrant in anything within the four corners of the statute. This Act renders every man who in the street, on 'Change; or at any hotel bets a hat on the yield of the coming harvest, liable to a tine of a hundred pounds ; and a second conviction, even if he hazards no more than a pair of gloves, wfll constitute him a rogue and a vagabond. But supposing the police should be instructed to confine their attentions to professional bookmakers, who is to draw the line between profes sionals and amateurs, and why should the latter be allowed to sin with impunity? Any law administered in this partial fashion must speedily become discredited, and before long allowed to fall into desuetude. As a delicate illustration of the principle on which the Act is to be administered reference is made to the manner in which the State deals with a certain class of females ; but the illus tration is faulty, as the law under which they are punished is expressly confined to them, whereas the anti-gaming Act of the present session applies to everybody. It is said that what the Government and the advocates of the repression of gambling will really accomplish by this Act is simply to make it punishable for the Leviathan and other members of the ring to accost persons iut purposes of gambling. If they do things quietly they will be let alone, and of course they will manage to restrain the exuberance of their energy till the anti gaming clause of the Totalizator Repeal Act is forgotten. All attempts to pre vent betting on racecourses must be futile; if people choose to throw away their spare cash on the turf it cannot be helped. Grown-up people in such matters must be left to their own discretion and prudence, and the exercise of self-control. It is only the most outrageous, gigantic, or obtrusive manifestations of gambling that the State can suppress ; it is utterly beyond the power of any Government to prevent betting or games of chance; the cure of such errors must be sought for in indi vidual and social reform.