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UBC Theses and Dissertations

"A criminal in one place, a gentleman in another" : regulating early Canadian gambling venues Bliss, James Robert Quartus


This thesis examines the legal history of regulating early gambling venues in Canada. Two case studies illustrate the manner in which a 'spatially oriented' legal regime emerged: early Chinese gambling dens in Victoria and Vancouver, and racetracks in Ontario. The term 'spatially oriented' recognizes that gambling law, both past and present, regulates gambling places rather than the activity of gaming itself. Moreover, the application of the law was spatially inconsistent: early Chinese gambling dens received a discriminate amount of police scrutiny while an express exemption in the criminal law insulated racetrack betting from sanction. The theoretical perspectives of moral regulation and critical legal geography are used to show that discourses of law, liberalism, race and morality are inextricably linked to 'place.' In particular, the relationship between law and place is highlighted to show how moral and ideological geographies may be both reflected in law, and created by law. The implication for early Canadian gambling venues was the development of a reputation of respectability for particular forums, such as the racetrack, versus the association of criminal connotations with unlicensed social gambling clubs, such as the Chinese gambling den.

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