A CASE of outstanding importance to all publican bookmakers was decided by the Full Bench of Licensing Magistrates last week, when application by Norman James Smirl for the renewal of his licence at the White Bay Hotel, Rozelle, was successful.
Smirl has also held a bookmaker’s licence since 1926, and his application was opposed by the Licensing Inspector, who objected that his bookmaking activities might interfere with the proper conduct of the hotel. In deliberating on the first case of its kind, the Bench made it clear that no reflection was cast on Smirl personally, or as a hotel licensee.
“It is not suggested that a licensed bookmaker is not a person of good character,” said the Chairman (Mr.Scobie, S.M.), “on the contrary, we are informed that a searching inquiry is made into character beforea bookmaker’s licence is granted.
“The court is of the opinion that it is undesirable, as a general rule, that any man holding a betting licence should be licensee of a hotel.
A licensed bookmaker holding a hotel licence may well attract to his hotel people wishing to bet illegally,” the Chairman added.
“It is the policy of the State to divorce all betting activities from hotels.”
Mr. J. W. Laidlaw (for Smirl), quoting numerous instances of publican-bookmakers, said Smirl had held the WhiteBay licence since December, 1942. He admitted thathis client was absent from the hotel each Saturday, from noon until about 5.30p.m., but had a friend who adequately under studied.
Mr. Laidlaw then instanced a lengthy list of metropolitan publicans who had golfing, bowling, horse breeding, bookmaking and other interests which caused their regular absence from their premises, but did not preclude them being considered satistactory licensees.
After several days to consider the case, the Full Bench gave its judgment for Smirl, because of his general good character, the exemplary conduct of the various hotels where he has been licensee, and the fact that previous licences had been renewed to him without objection when he held a bookmaker’s licence.
But the serious attitude of thelicensing authorities to bookmakerpublicans and the intimation of ageneral survey of licensees, wereshown by the following statementissued by the Bench:“We understand that there are a number of other licensees who are holders of bookmakers’ licences also. Each such case will be dealt with on its own merits. If, however, the licensee’s conduct during the past 12 months has been satisfactory, it is probable that renewal of these licences will be granted, unless there is evidence indicating a lack of proper control of the hotel during the licensee’s absence.
“The position is different, however, in an application for transfer to a person who is a licensed bookmaker,and such transfers will not ordinarily be granted.
“Similarly, a licensed publican who takes out a bookmaker’s licence may have to face an objection against the renewal of his publican‘s licence.”
- Truth (Sydney, NSW) Sunday 30 April 1944
Rebuilt in brick on what is now Victoria Road and popular with the wharfies (longshoremen) of the White Bay Container Terminal until the transferral of its facilities to Port Botany, the hotel, which became increasingly squeezed by the widening of Victoria Road after the construction of the Anzac Bridge, ceased trading in 1992.
Between this time and 2008, squatters had moved in and were particularly prominent during the Sydney 2000 Olympics. In June 2008, the owner of the hotel had lodged an application to redevelop the building. On 5 September 2008, the hotel was destroyed by a deliberately lit fire and was demolished. The New South Wales Governmentpurchased the site in June 2010 for A$2.5 million.
Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority recently cleared the White Bay Hotel site of building rubble.