Southern Rhodesian sweepstakes referendum, 1934

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The Southern Rhodesia sweepstakes referendum of February 1934 saw the voters of Southern Rhodesia vote to permit the running of sweepstakes gambling "under strict legislative control", managed by the government of the colony.

Background[edit]

The Lotteries Prohibition Act 1891 made lotteries illegal in Southern Rhodesia, but it became increasingly common for Rhodesians to participate in sweepstakes conducted outside the colony and it was felt among the political class that a measure of reform on the issue was overdue. The case for legalising sweepstakes had been raised in the Southern Rhodesia Assembly from 1928, and in the general election of 1933 the Reform Party stated in its manifesto that it would submit the issue to a referendum should it be elected.

Arrangements[edit]

No specific act was passed to authorise the referendum; instead the Government Statistician was instructed to conduct the ballot, which was conducted entirely through postal voting with no polling stations being open. All those registered to vote were sent a ballot paper at the beginning of February, with a calendar month to respond (the ballot closed on 28 February). There were two separate issues on the ballot paper, which read:

1. Are you in favour of sweepstakes under strict legislative control being permitted to operate in Southern Rhodesia?
2. If sweepstakes be legalised, are you in favour of –
(a) Management by the Government direct?
or
(b) Management by a special authority under Government licence?

Results[edit]

There were 28,216 ballot papers dispatched, of which 20,550 were returned, making a turnout of 72.8%. The majority in favour of legalising sweepstakes was an overwhelming one of more than four to one. The voters then approved management by the Government direct, by a slightly more than two-thirds majority, although the Statistician discounted some 1,036 votes on the second question who had given contradictory answers "which made it impossible to determine what their views on management were". 203 ballot papers were blank on the second question.

Following the result of the referendum, the House of Assembly passed the State Lotteries Act on 14 May 1935 which legalised sweepstakes under Government control.

First question Votes %
In favour of sweepstakes 16,946 82.5
Against sweepstakes 3,604 17.5
Second question Votes %
In favour of management by Government 13,539 70.1
In favour of management by special authority 5,772 29.9

Question 1[edit]

Electoral district Papers dispatched Valid votes Turnout % In favour % Against %
Bulawayo Central 2,058 1,370 66.6 1,198 87.4 172 12.6
Bulawayo North 2,027 1,445 71.3 1,066 73.8 379 26.2
Bulawayo South 1,343 850 63.3 723 85.1 127 14.9
Charter 687 475 69.1 382 80.4 93 19.6
Eastern 941 698 74.2 541 77.5 157 22.5
Gatooma 851 665 78.1 581 87.4 84 12.6
Gwanda 851 665 72.8 464 87.9 64 12.1
Gwelo 1,068 776 72.7 674 86.9 102 13.1
Hartley 633 525 82.9 429 81.7 96 18.3
Insiza 722 550 76.2 482 87.6 68 12.4
Inyati 791 566 71.6 483 85.3 83 14.7
Lomagundi 840 665 79.2 504 75.8 161 24.2
Marandellas 825 640 77.6 517 80.8 123 19.2
Matopo 952 726 76.3 617 85.0 109 15.0
Mazoe 901 703 78.0 581 82.6 122 17.4
Que Que 829 636 76.7 583 91.7 53 8.3
Raylton 1,259 849 67.4 757 89.2 92 10.8
Salisbury Central 2,290 1,601 69.9 1,359 84.9 242 15.1
Salisbury District 996 781 78.4 584 74.8 197 25.2
Salisbury North 2,043 1,501 73.5 1,027 68.4 474 31.6
Salisbury South 1,258 843 67.0 742 88.0 101 12.0
Selukwe 835 681 81.6 598 87.8 83 12.2
Umtali North 908 672 74.0 521 77.5 151 22.5
Umtali South 802 580 72.3 523 90.2 57 9.8
Victoria 1,024 715 69.8 537 75.1 178 24.9
Wankie 708 509 71.9 473 92.9 36 7.1

Question 2[edit]

Electoral district Contradictory votes Blank votes Government management % Special authority %
Bulawayo Central 49 7 782 59.5 532 40.5
Bulawayo North 50 9 933 67.3 453 32.7
Bulawayo South 20 5 502 60.8 323 39.2
Charter 47 13 357 86.0 58 14.0
Eastern 62 18 477 77.2 141 22.8
Gatooma 29 4 478 75.6 154 24.4
Gwanda 18 7 377 75.0 126 25.0
Gwelo 50 2 554 76.5 170 23.5
Hartley 29 7 377 77.1 112 22.9
Insiza 30 8 414 80.9 98 19.1
Inyati 26 4 369 68.8 167 31.2
Lomagundi 41 8 423 68.7 193 31.3
Marandellas 40 11 457 77.6 132 22.4
Matopo 32 9 398 58.1 287 41.9
Mazoe 32 12 485 73.6 174 26.4
Que Que 39 1 394 66.1 202 33.9
Raylton 37 3 491 60.7 318 39.3
Salisbury Central 53 14 978 63.8 556 36.2
Salisbury District 50 9 543 75.2 179 24.8
Salisbury North 72 10 1,022 72.0 397 28.0
Salisbury South 37 8 539 67.5 259 32.5
Selukwe 36 4 514 80.2 127 19.8
Umtali North 40 9 443 71.1 180 28.9
Umtali South 24 4 413 74.8 139 25.2
Victoria 67 14 495 78.1 139 21.9
Wankie 26 3 324 67.5 156 32.5

References[edit]

  • Source Book of Parliamentary Elections and Referenda in Southern Rhodesia 1898–1962 ed. by F.M.G. Willson (Department of Government, University College of Rhodesia and Nyasaland, Salisbury 1963)