Not a Mere Question of Gambling: Question at Issue in Proposed Pari-Mutuel Legislation Much Broader than That View, Daily Racing Form, 1917-01-30


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NOT A MERE QUESTION OF GAMBLING. Question at Issue in Proposed Pari-Mutuel Legislation Much Broader Than That View. The New York Times, commenting on the report of the New York State Racing Commission, lias the following to say: "Ry far the biggest move made in behalf of racing in the State of New York in recent years was the announcement by the State Racing Commission that it favored the pari-mutuel system of betting, which, it is contended, has resulted in the improvement of conditions for the sport in Maryland and Kentucky. The adverse comment from legislators at Albany has rather weakened the hope of turfmen that this form of speculation will be legalized within a few years, but, on the other hand, it is pointed out that the State Racing Commission must have good grounds for wishing to make such a drastic change. "The criticism that the proposed change would sanction and legalize open gambling is the greatest obstacle that the racing powers have to overcome, before they can hope to establish the new system. It always has been recognized that racing was too expensive a sport to flourish without betting of some sort and the consequent large gates that follow when the public has a chance to speculate. Those who are anxious to see racing as popular as it was be fare the Agncw-Hart bills were introduced hold that if there must be speculation it might as well be conducted under a plan approved by law and especially when such a plan will tend largely to increase the revenues of the state. They contend that the amount of money won and lost in a day at the race tracks is not nearly as large as appears at first sight, when judged by the money that passes through the mutuel machines in the course of a day. The explanation given is that the money wag. red on one race is wagered again on the second and so on through the card. Rut every time the money passes through the machines the state receives its pert outage. This percentage, of course, comes out of the pockets of the winners who. in reality, receive better prices as a rule than they can obtain tinder the system of Credit betting at present in vogue. "The major argument of the men interested in racing is that the question is a much broader one than the mere matttr of gambling: that the life of one of the greatest spurts of all times is at stake, and that racing on a high plane with generous purses is absolutely necessary for the preservation of highly bred horses to stuiulate the breeding industry of the country. For years the Jockey Club has been working along these lines through its breeding bureau, which has placed thoroughbred horses at the disposal of the farmers so that horses suitable for remounts and for general could be bred at small expense. The elimination of racing, it is contended, would mean the deterioration of the horse, lonsidcred by many persons a vital matter at this time, when preparedness advocates call for the acquiring of high-grade horses for use-in a possible war. "Racing men derive encouragement from the fact that this new plan has been submitted by the Racing Commission, which is composed of men who are by no means addicted to gambling. Two members of the commission own racing stables. One is H. K. Knapp. wlio for years has raced under the name tif the Oneck Stable, and without doubt has spent thousands of dollars every year for his enjoyment of the sport, and the pleasure of seeing his colors tallied in stake events. The other is John Sanfortl. a .Member of tie- family who has don-- so much for the bleeding iudustiy. It is contended that if there must k betting it is better to have the state ami various chanties pn fit from its conduct than to have the money, lost by the public, go into the coffers of bookmakers and prufrssional layers of Odds. •Another argument in favor of the pari-mutuel advance I by the rating men is that in the states ami countries where the plan has been introduced the sport has been singularly free from scandal of the kind that has almost invariably followed m the wake of meetings iu which bookmakers were active."

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