The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 79
From the leading columns I extract the following:—" A number of my friends and some of my less generous critics have communicated with me during the week in regard to what I had to say the other day concerning the bookmakers and their operations in New Zealand. The great majority of my friends express warm approval of my remarks, and urge me to 'keep on hammering away,' as one of them puts it, 'at this great evil.' They may rest assured I shall continue to do my best, but now I want to say a word or two to a correspondent who elegantly charges me with 'slanging the bookmakers for the purpose of bolstering up the totalisator,' which, he says, I know to be 'a hundred times worse.' Now, as I have tried to make clear before, this is no question of bolstering up the totalisator. The Legislature in its wisdom has decreed that the totalisator shall be the only legal means of betting on horse-racing, and while that decree remains on the Statute Book the machine will require no assistance from me or from anyone else. But experience has shown indisputably that the totalisator, by providing larger stakes for owners and better accommodation for the public, besides greatly improving the character of the sport, has freed it from some of the worst evils that beset it in the old days. The very worst of these evils was the dominance of the bookmaker, who was often a horse-owner himself and who always had horse-owners and trainers and jockeys, of a kind, more or less under his thumb and ready to do his bidding in his constant war upon the public.
"The totalisator practically killed the bookmaker of the old school and for a year or two the New Zealand Turf was comparatively free from his machinations, but then his lineal successor began to grow up, page 51 so slowly at first that his presence was scarcely noticed by the racing authorities. He applied his distorted ingenuity to small game, and he was allowed to go on his insidious way without any serious interference. One fine day, however, the public woke up to the fact that the bookmaker in his new guise had re-established himself, and was becoming again a scourge to the community. Everyone knows what has happened since. Parliament has readily passed what legislation seemed necessary for the extinction of the new peril, and the racing authorities have constantly striven for its effective administration, but unfortunately bookmakers of the class I described last week have managed to secure a footing in almost every centre of population in the Dominion, and many of them are growing rich through the stupid cupidity of men and women who have the most to lose by a return to the old order of things. These are the facts I want the sporting and the non-sporting people of this country to realise and understand."