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There is no need to search the newspapers at this time of the year for evidence that horse-racing is a most popular pastime in New Zealand. The proof stares one in the face, in fact, in the reports of the numerous race meetings held in various parts of the dominion during the past ten days, the holiday season offering, of course, exceptional opportunities for the holding of such gatherings.
It is always interesting and informative to keep under observation the spending proclivities of the community in relation to this particular sport, and the evidence of the last few days on this point will well repay examination.
Some people may even be disposed, in fact, to consider it a little startling. The figures furnished show there were at least a score of meetings at which the totalisator investments ranged from 7000 upwards, this trifling minimum being reached, it is hardly necessary to observe, in but a very small proportion of country meetings. If we take, however, the more important fixtures, those at Auckland, Palmerston North, Hastings, Christchurch and Dunedin, we find the amount of money passed through the legalised betting machine reached the impressive total of 402,215.
While it is not suggested that these figures are abnormal, the fact is worthy of notice that in each instance an increase is recorded in the investments as compared with the corresponding fixtures of last year, the aggregate increase in respect to the five centres referred to amounting to nearly 70,000.
If the inquirer be tempted to look a little further he will find that the aggregate amount of money invested in legal form at a round score of Christmas and New Year race meetings, large and small, for which the totalisator figures are supplied, reached approximately the imposing total of 586,000, and that it represented an increase in round figures of 100,000 on the investments recorded for the same fixtures twelve months ago. In the sum of its proportions it casts no reflection, it will be admitted, on the general prosperity of the country.
The verdict of the figures may be considered to indicate very plainly indeed that the people of New Zealand have as a whole a great deal of money available for purposes of enjoyment and speculation. That so many of them should seem to make no better use of their surplus than to invest it on the tote is an altogether less gratifying circumstance. - ODT, 4.1.1913.