Oral Betting is Upheld: Charges Against Alleged Bookmaker Dismissed in Cicero, Daily Racing Form, 1922-12-03


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ORAL BETTING IS UPHELD Charges Against Alleged Bookmaker Dismissed in Cicero. Jndge Declares System of Betting Held at Hawthorne No Violation of Illinois Gambling Laws. Through the dismissal of charges against John L. McElhatton, an alleged bookmaker, operating under the "oral system" of betting at Hawthorne race track during the recent meeting, friends of racing were jubilant Saturday through the dicision of Judge Henry J. Sandusky in the first district court of Cicero. Representing the interests of the Illinois Jockey Club and aiding in the prosecution of McElhatton was attorney John Francis Tyrrell. McElhatton was arrested on complaint of officials of the Illinois Jockey Club and charged with "bookmaking, pool-selling and operating a common gaming house." The charges were brought under sections 126 and 127 of the revised criminal code. State Prosecutor Frank J. Matusek, presenting States Attorney Crowes office, after the evidence was submitted, defended McElhatton and declared "no violation of Illinois gambling laws had been committed." After argument of counsel on both sides Judge Sandusky issued a long statement, in which he said, "Oral betting was not prohibited by the laws of Illinois." Despite protests of Attorney John Francis Tyrrell demanding a conviction Judge Sandusky declared that "under the system of betting complained of as conducted at Hawthorne race track by individuals no laws had been violated." Attorney Tyrrell insisted upon a conviction in the hope that the matter could be carried to the Supreme Court for a final decision, but the states attorney and the court ruled that "the Supremo Court must decide in favor of the defendant." Following the agreement of the court and the states representative, lengthy argument and discussion took up several hours and many authorities were cited to show the Illinois legislature had failed to cover all forms of betting and that no attempt had ever been made by the legislature to prohibit bets made among individuals, and "where no money or thing of value changes hands." The evidence showed that an alleged bettor had met McElhatton walking about the grounds at Hawthorne. Asked what he was "laying against Walk Up in the last race," McElhatton replied "six to five." Whereupon the alleged bettor, according to the testimony, offered McElhatton a business card bearing the name of the horse, the figures C-5, and asked the defendant if he would "try and place a commission of 00 on Walk Up." Testimony showed that McElhatton did not accept the bet, but promised to "try and place it," and the two were about to separate when Sergeants Michael Connors and George Homer placed him under arrest. This evidence was not a violation of any of Illinois laws, the court decided, and McElhatton was released. This decision is the first in the history of Illinois affecting "oral betting." Its significance includes the certain return of continued racing in Illinois and gives further encouragement to officials of the Illinois Jockey Club, who plan greater and bigger things for advent of the new racing season next spring. Already plans have been started in preparation of the first meetings condition books and these will be sent broadcast to horsemen all over the country shortly after the Christmas holidays. Assurances have come from Marshall Field, through representatives of the Thoroughbred Horse Association, that his stable would bo in Chicago for the next meeting.

Persistent Link: https://drf.uky.edu/catalog/1920s/drf1922120301/drf1922120301_1_6
Local Identifier: drf1922120301_1_6
Library of Congress Record: https://lccn.loc.gov/unk82075800