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Present: Shaw J.
POLICE OFFICER, BEUATTA, v. BABUNAPFU.
405—P. C, Tangalla, 10,814.
Unlawful gaming—Keeping a common gaming place—Owner of premisessuperintending premises and collecting "thonJ”
The collection of commission on the stakes by somebody who ispresent at the gambling is not sufficient evidence that that personhas the care or management of or assists in the management of aplace kept or used as a common gaming place within the meaning ofsection 5 (c) of the Gaming Ordinance. When a person is theowner of a house, and is on the premises superintending the gamblingand taking commission on the winnings gained, it is sufficient anddefinite proof that it is he who is keeping or using the place as agaming house.
Hartv. Wamasuriya1 and Thamby v. Ukku.Banda* commentedupon.
^JIHE foots appear from the judgment.Keunemanf for the appellant.
if. W, U. de iSilva, OJ.K, for the Crown.
May 9,1921. Shaw J.—
In this case the accused has been convicted of an offence undersection 5 (a) of the Gaming Ordinance of 1889, “ being the owneror oocupier, keeps or uses his place as a common gaming place.19He has beensentenced to pay a fine of Rs. 300, or, in default, to threemonths9 rigorous imprisonment. Objectionistakento the convictionon the ground that the evidence does not show that an offencehas been committed under the Ordinance. It is said that there isno evidence that the house was a common gaming place, because itis not shown that the public had access, nor is it shown that gamingfor money was in fact proceeding at the time of which the witnessesgive evidence. The evidence is certainly somewhat scanty. It is tothis effect: That on November22 the police officers raided a house ofwhich the accused is the owner, and that they there found the accusedand over fifty other people engaged in playing the game of “ baby."They were people from various villages, and they were playing inthree groups, one in the house and two in the compound. That theaccused himself was collecting “ thon99 or commission from tlieplayers. When the headman began to effect arrest, the peoplewho were assembled there ran away. It is said on behalf of theappellant that the collection of “ thon " does not show that the1 5 Leader L. B. 109.* (1910) 13 N. L. B. *86.
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place was a common gaming place, and it is said that this is decidedin certain cases^Hart v. Wamasuriya1 and Tamby v. Ukku Banda.2These cases do not appear to me to decide any such thing. Whatthese cases decide is that the collection of commission on thestakes by somebody who is present at a gambling is not sufficientevidence that that person has the care or management of or assistsin the management of a place kept or used as a common gamingplace within the meaning of section 5 (c) of the Ordinance. Thismay be so, as the Judge in these cases quite properly point out thata person who is engaged in managing the gambling itself is notnecessarily the person who manages the gambling house. Had thecharge in these cases been under sub-section (a) which the presentcharge is being brought under, and the people in these cases havebeen proved to be the owners of the house, the result of those casesmight have been entirely different. It seems to me that, wheiyaperson is the owner of a house, and is on the premises superintendingthe gambling and taking commission on the winnings gained, it issufficient and definite proof that it is he who is keeping or usingthe place as a gaming house.. In the present case, I think, there issufficient evidence that this is a common gaming house withinthe meaning of the Ordinance. We have evidence that the gamingof “ baby/’ which is a game of cards and a game of chance, wasbeing played by fifty people coming from different places. We haveevidence that the accused collected “ thon ” or commission on thewinnings. That clearly shows that the money was passing hands,and that the game was being played for stakes. It also, in myopinion, shows that it was not a private party, but that it was a placekept for the public to come and game at, because a person whoinvites his friends to a game of cards in his private house does notcharge his guests a commission on the amount of their winnings.The very number of the people, coming as they did from differentneighbourhoods, seems also to support the other evidence to theeffect that this was not a party of friends assembled for a quiet andlawful game of cards.
I have been asked to reconsider the amount of the sentencewhich has been imposed by the Magistrate. I do not think I oughtto do so. This is a case of a somewhat bad nature. It is a gamingcarried on a very largo scale, and it has been carried on by theaccused after warnings from the police authorities against the useof his house for this purpose. The Gaming Ordinance provides fora'fine of not exceeding Rs. 500 in a case of this sort, and gives theMagistrate special jurisdiction to that amount. The fine in thepresent case is, I think, not too severe in the circumstances of thecase.
I would dismiss the appeal.
1 S Leader L. R. 109
3 (1910) IS N. L. R. 286*
POLICE OFFICER, BELIATTA, v. BABUNAPPU