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    Police wink at gambling in the Great North West

    At the start of the twentieth century, gambling was prohibited in all “civilized countries,” but winked at by the police in the Great North West, according to The White Horse Star, January 16, 1901. A reader had written to complain:

    “There are places in White Horse where a man may play games of chance and may get a fair show for his money… and there are other places where a sober man has to exercise every faculty… in order to have an even chance, and if the individual should be so unfortunate as to patronize the bar too freely, as surely as he plays he is ‘up against it.’”

    The editor replied:

    “In Canada, as well as all other civilized countries, there are stringent laws on the statute books against games of chance of every description, but in the newly settled sections of the west and northwest, public sentiment appears to govern the matter, and if a majority of the citizens in any given locality favor the keeping open of such places, the local officials generally overlook the infraction of the law and only seek to keep its violations within certain bounds. Dawson, Skagway, Juneau, Victoria, Vancouver, Seattle, Tacoma, Spokane, Portland and other cities and towns permit open gambling houses, and many business men who never enter a gambling house themselves, favor these places because of the large amount of money which is put into circulation through their agency. The gamblers, although for the most part a peaceable, law-abiding class, are subject to a periodical fine, which is usually turned into the municipal treasury…

    “We do not know to what house in White Horse our correspondent alludes, and have been under the impression that since early in the summer the strict police surveillance which has been maintained had done away with all kinds of ‘crooked work’ in White Horse, but it seems we have been laboring under a mistaken idea. However this may be, we do not believe the police have countenanced any such work, and it must have occurred when none of these vigilant guardians of the public welfare happened to be around.”

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    TAGS: Gambling, Law enforcement, Dawson City, Skagway, Juneau, Victoria, Vancouver, Seattle, Tacoma, Spokane, Portland

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