May 22, 1934 (17th Parliament, 5th Session)


Hugh Guthrie (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)


I am going to read the
commission so that my hon. friend will have full information. The commission consisted of some ten persons, and the chairman named was a very able English judge, at that time retired, the Hon. Sir Sidney Arthur Taylor Rowlatt. He had associated with him nine distinguished commissioners. The commission reads as follows:
Whereas we have deemed it expedient that a commission should forthwith issue to inquire into the existing law and the practice thereunder relating to lotteries, betting, gambling and cognate matters, and to report what changes, if any, are deemed practicable.
The commission held a great many sittings. It summoned before it men and women of standing in almost every rank and calling. The evidence taken covers between six and seven hundred printed pages. I do not profess that I have read it all but I have read a great portion of it. Some one hundred and seventy witnesses were summoned, including bankers, merchants, shipping men, railroad men, members of the various religious denominations, prison officials, race track operators, proprietors of racing stables, many of the leading racing men of England, bookmakers, representatives of all lines of sport where betting is permitted. I think every kind of gambling was considered by the commission, and men representative of the various business and sporting interests appeared before it and gave evidence. The conclusion of the commission, if I read it correctly, is to the effect that lotteries constitute a menace to public welfare and are economically unsound. The report of the commission is lengthy, but there are certain parts of it that deal expressly with the question of lotteries, and what we are concerned with at the present time is the views of the commission in regard to the single subject of lotteries. The report sets out at length all the enactments which have ever been passed on the subject by the parliament of Great Britain; it gives a very good historical resume of the operations of lotteries from the days of Queen Elizabeth down to the present time, and the conclusions of the commission in regard to lotteries are to be found on page 143, section 495. The commissioner's conclusions on this matter are as follows:
1. There is no justification for assuming that there is a sustained or insistent demand in this country for this type of gambling facility.
2. The demand for the legalization of large public lotteries in this country is based upon insufficient appreciation of the difficulties and disadvantages involved'.

3. It is doubtful to what extent an authorized public lottery in this country would put a stop to the sale in this country of Irish sweepstake tickets. It is clear that even if such a lottery were to be authorized, special measures would still have to be enacted to deal with the sale of tickets in lotteries promoted outside Great Britain.
4. The existing law in regard to the sale of tickets in lotteries promoted abroad proved unworkable owing to special causes. There are several measures which can be adopted to bring up to date the law against the sale of foreign lottery tickets, and to make it effective.
5. It is much easier to authorize large public lotteries in this country than to put a stop to such lotteries once they are started.
The commission in its report also finds that there is little or no objection to what it terms small lotteries and it makes no finding as against small lotteries. It deals with small lotteries in section 499 as follows:
We considered' the further question whether very small lotteries or prize drawings, in which members of the public generally are invited to purchase tickets, could be exempted from the prohibition of lotteries. It would in any event be necessary to confine the exemption to schemes which complied with the following conditions:-
1. that the scheme is promoted by some institution of a permanent character conducted for purposes not connected with gaming, wagering or lotteries;
2. that the proceeds of the scheme are devoted to some charitable or philanthropic object;
3. that no profit accrues to any person from the promotion or administration of the scheme, and that no commission is paid in respect of the sale of tickets;
4. that no administrative expenses are allowed in connection with the scheme except printing, stationery, and postage;
5. that prizes are in kind and limited in value;
6. that the price of the tickets is limited in value to a few pence.
The commission concludes that there is little or no objection to lotteries of this kind.

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