Royal Commission into Off-the-Course Betting in New South Wales

State Records Authority of New South Wales
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A Royal Commission of Inquiry into Off-the-Course Betting in New South Wales was established by Letters Patent on 18 April 1962. Justice Kinsella was appointed as Commissioner.

The terms of reference for the commission were to investigate:
(1) Whether off-the-course betting should be made lawful in New South Wales; and if so;
(2) What method, manner and form of off-the-course betting should be made lawful. (1)

The Commission held 80 hearings, and examined 80 witnesses. 240 Exhibits were tendered to the Commission. The Commission commenced hearings on 4 May 1962. In addition, the Commission made visits to Victoria, Western Australia, and New Zealand in order to observe the methods of legalised off-the-course betting, and to obtain information about the effects of illegal off-the-course betting on the racing industry and the bloodstock industry. 77 persons were interviewed in the course of these visits, and written evidence was also obtained. (2)

The Commission concluded that there were many advantages of legalising off-course betting including: a potential reduction in illegal off-course betting; more opportunities for the public who could not attend a racecourse to bet legally off-course; public support for enforcement of laws against illegal off-course betting; financial assistance to the racing industry; and revenue for the state government. (3) The Commission also concluded that these advantages outweighed the possibility that off-course betting facilities could be “a temptation to young people and may induce a number of people, young and old to bet who if the invitation were not thus held out them, might never have bet”. Therefore, the Commission concluded that off-course betting should be made legal in New South Wales. (4)

The Commission concluded that the most appropriate method of establishing legal off-course betting was the Totaliser, which was to be implemented as a modified form of Victorian Totaliser Agency Board (T.A.B.) system. (5)

The Commissioner recommended that the off-course totaliser was to be controlled and managed by a statutory body known as the Totaliser Agency Board. This Board was to be comprised of representatives of the Australian Jockey Club, the Sydney Turf Club, the New South Wales Trotting Club, The District Racing Association, the Greyhound Racing Authorities, and a government representative. (6)

The Commissioner recommended that general conditions for the administration of the off-course totaliser include: all bets made on the totaliser on races in New South Wales be sent to the totaliser on course and included in the totaliser pool; that the statutory deduction from all pools not exceed 12 ½%; the minimum bet was to be 2/6 d; that provisions for betting by telephone against deposited cash be made; that betting continue in metropolitan areas until approximately 20 minutes before a race, and betting continue 30 minutes before a race in country areas; that the results and dividends of a race be posted as soon as possible; that winning bets be paid in cash to cash bettor, and in credit to telephone betting accounts; that provision be made by the Board for betting on races outside New South Wales; that advertising of the T.A.B. system and its agencies be limited to a suitably small sign outside each agency, and all other advertising to be prohibited; that T.A.B. system agencies not be established near places of public worship, schools or licensed clubs. (7)

The Commission recommended that specific conditions for the administration of agencies within the T.A.B. system included the prohibition of the following: broadcasting except for announcement of scratching, results, and dividends; the use of transistors and or other portables radios in order to receive racing information; loitering in and around agencies; seating, entertainment, or refreshment within agencies; display of written or pictorial information in an agency other than official notices or regulations. (8)

The Commission recommended amendments to the Betting and Gaming Act 1912 (Act No.25, 1912) (as amended) to increase the penalties for place and street betting offences. These amendments were necessary to ensure the suppression of illegal off-course betting, and therefore to ensure the success of a legalised system of off-course betting. (9)

The Commission ended with the publishing of the final report on 29 March 1963.

(1) NSW Government Gazette No.37, 18 April 1962, p.1093.
(2) Royal Commission into Off-Course Betting: Report, 29 March 1963. p.2 and p.16, SRNSW Ref [12/8745], File No. 62/909 pt. 1 (NRS 1594)
(3) Ibid., pp.74-79.
(4) Ibid., pp.79-80.
(5) Ibid., p.142.
(6) Ibid., p.144.
(7) Ibid., pp.144-145.
(8) Ibid., pp.145-146.
(9) Ibid., pp.146 and 85.

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