Oddities of Gaming Laws: English Lawyer Reviews the Obsolete Acts Still in Force, Daily Racing Form, 1922-03-01


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. J . . i . ; I 1 : t , , , . . . , ! . , ! , , ODDITIES OF GAMING LAWS SK" — "S English Lawyer Reviews the Obsolete Acts Still in Force. a- Hard Task to Frame Measures for Modern Conditions; Suggestions Made as to Necessities. a In a keen r.-porl. made for tin- Uuidon Times, an English lawyer, the author, has given a Natal and most interesting summary atsiut the gaming act-as they apply on the or?ier side. It -hows the absolute obsoldism f some of the laws which apply to [uesent conditions and times. The report points out how etren:cly easy if is to pick holes in present laws as to betting and gambling, but argues that to substitute a reasonable code for the present chaos wctlld be a difficult task for any lawyer. It would, he says, be a far more difficult task for a government. The report declares that no political capital can be made out of it. and it will be quite impossible to reconcile the sporting and Furitan views In on" measure. Nevertheless, the task should be takeu up. for the present law is clearly indefensible. It begins with a statute of Henry VI1L. ridiculous in these day-, forbidding artificers and ether persons in humble positions to play various games. This has only partially been repealed. Then there are laws of William III. as to lotteries, of Queen Anne, and several other unrepealed acts of the eighteenth century. The act of 1883, which has received so much obloquy with regard to checks for bets, really mitigated the older law. which prevented even innocent holders for ealhe from recovering on hem. Formerly betting checks were absolutely void: the act validates them intermediately, but preserves the losers right to recover from the winner. FORBIDDEN CARD GAMES. Tie- old laws were mailff with all kinds of motives; HeBty VIII. desired fell artisans to practice with the boar and arrow, the HanoverJau ministers only wished to suppress competition with their own state lotteries, and the veto on card gambling WMt hand in hand with Sir John Barnards net against "The infamous practice of stock-Jobbing." Specific games of cards, such as "hazard," "basset I." "pharaoh" faro, and other games, such ns "roulet or iioly-iK.Iy." were deemed to have wrought mischief and so were forbidden after much thunderous preamble; then the gamblers invented "passage." so another act had to be passed to forbid that. These old acts are still unrepealed, aud the above-named gani-s are si ill forbidden. Vet poker nud baccarat aud "put and take" remain anonymous, so far as the statutes are ocneerneil. though un doubtedly unlawful games within their scope. In passing, the elderly and mfebjlMged may recogniz" "put and take" as the brilliant Issue of modern enterprise ut of teelotuin. or common playing tops of various kinds. The whole law is elaborately discussed in a judgment by the late I jrd Brampton in 18S4, in which he stated his couclusiui thai any game of cards with an element of chance in it was against She law. Of course no card game lacks the element of chain-e which must govern the fall of the cards themselves. The other element of skill varies. It may be high in | atience or auction bridge, and low in baccarat, but it falls to zero perhaps only in tin- childs game of "Beggar-my neighbor." In that game, when the hands are dealt, oue is pre-de tined to win and the other to lo.se. as unalterably as the strickest theology would require. Coming to realities, everybody ought lawfully to be able to take part in any game of chance whatever if not played for money or its equivalent even that proposition is now doiibfull. and every -Ixwly ought within reason to be allowed to pla.r cards for money, subject to proper safeguards. DRIVES; SWEEPS; LOTTERIES. The various judges who have recently decided the whist drive oases have lieeu careful to avoid Ihe proposition that it is unlawful lo play cards for money. But they barn Iweji equally careful not to commit themselves to tile definite how and when and where. To frame :i law making the above discrimination is necessarily difficult. Our present law. with the occasional capricious veto on the shilling whist diive and its toleiation of comparatively high play at clubs, is unreasonable. One solution would b* to retain the law against common gaming houses and lotteries more or less in its present form, but to establish a system of licenses for whist drives, bazaar raffles, club sweepstakes, etc. iub sweepstakes on races clearly violate the statute against lotteries, and the immunity of their promoters, coupled witli the prosecutions of the small candy-shop keepers for keeping autiuiatic machines, does not encourage respect for the law. The law as to betting is so framed that the poor man finds it more difficult to lose his money than the rich. This benevolent discrimination should be reiained. but not by a system of prose- tiling the small offeudeis and leaving the well-to-do alone. Cher be should be placed on tUe same feeling as ready mom-v for the jtayment of bets, and it would In- possible to arrange for this without repealing the present law that a mortgage for a gambling debt is void as between the parties. Witli tin- fiat of the attorney -general now ue-eennary for a prosecution under some of the older laws, and the common informer deprived of liis reward, they are now practically obsolete, which is a very good reason for clearing the statue-book of them. a

Persistent Link: https://drf.uky.edu/catalog/1920s/drf1922030101/drf1922030101_9_8
Local Identifier: drf1922030101_9_8
Library of Congress Record: https://lccn.loc.gov/unk82075800