Neither under the common law nor under the statutes against gaming, betting, and wagers is the bona fide offer of premiums or purses on horse races or other legitimate competitions illegal, and it is immaterial that the competitors are required to pay an entrance fee before they are allowed to compete, and that these fees go to make up in part the premium or purse offered.10
At common law, in England, contracts of insurance, like other wagers, were valid though the assured had no interest whatever in the property or the life insured;11 and the English doctrine, as we have seen, has been recognized in a few of our states.12 In most of our states, however, the doctrine has been repudiated, and it has been held, independently of any statute, that contracts of insurance with a person who has no interest in the property or life are mere gambling transactions, and are void.13 The subject is now very generally dealt with by statute both in England and with us, so that there is seldom any occasion to look to the common law. By these statutes, any contract of marine, fire, or life insurance is declared void unless the assured has an insurable interest.
(Gil. 263), 10 Am. Rep. 139; Eldred v. Malloy, 2 Colo. 320, 25 Am. Rep. 752; Pabst Brewing Co. v. Liston, 80 Minn. 473, 83 N. W. 448, 81 Am. St Rep. 275. See "Gaming," Dec. Dig. (Key-No.) §§ 1-5; Cent. Dig. §§ 1-15.
9 Anson, Cont. (8th Ed.) 189 et seq. Some of the earlier English statutes have in this country been regarded as part of the common law. Emerson v. Townsend, 73 Md. 224, 20 Atl. 9S4. See "Gaming," Dec. Dig. (Key-No.) §§ 1-5; Cent. Dig. §§ 1-15.
io Porter v. Day, 71 Wis. 296, 37 N. W. 259. And see Harris v. White, 81 N. Y. 532; Misner v. Knapp, 13 Or. 135, 9 Pac. 65, 57 Am. Rep. 6; Delier v. Society, 57 Iowa, 481, 10 N. W. 872; Alvord v. Smith, 63 Ind. 58; People v. Fallon, 152 N. Y. 12, 46 N. E. 296, 37 L. R. A. 227, 57 Am. St Rep. 492; Hankins v. Ottinger, 115 Cal. 454, 47 Pac. 254, 40 L. R. A. 76; Wilkinson v. Stitt 175 Mass. 581, 56 N. E. 830. In some states the offer of such rewards or premiums is prohibited in certain cases. Bronson Agricultural & B. Ass'n v. Ramsdell, 24 Mich. 441. It is otherwise where the offer of a premium is a mere subterfuge to cover a bet; as where the owners of horses make up a purse, and put it in the hands of a third person to pay to the one of them whose horse shall win. Gibbons v. Gouverneur, 1 Denio (N. Y.) 170. See "Gaming," Dec. Dig. (Key-No.) % 7; Cent. Dig. § 16.
11 Kulen Kemp v. Vigne, 1 Term R. 304; Dean v. Dicker, 2 Strange, 12.10. See "Insurance," Dec. Dig. (Key-No.) § 119; Cent. Dig. § 165.
12 Clendining v. Church, 3 Caines (N. Y.) 141; Buchanan v. Insurance Co., 6 Cow. (N. Y.) 318; Trenton Mut Life & Fire Ins. Co. v. Johnson, 24 N. J. Law, 576. See "Insurance," Dec. Dig. (Key-No.) § 119; Cent. Dig. § 165.
13 Stevens v. Warren, 101 Mass. 564; Warnock v. Davis, 104 U. S. 775, 26
The question as to what amounts to an insurable interest is one more peculiarly for a work on insurance, and it would be impracticable for us to go into it. In the case of marine or fire insurance it is sufficient to say that if a person has any interest in the vessel, cargo, or other property, legal or equitable, so that he would suffer a loss if it should be destroyed, he has an insurable interest.14 In the case of life insurance it has been said that "all which it seems necessary to show in order to take the policy out of the objection of being a wager policy is that the insured has some interest in the life of the cestui que vie; that his temporal affairs, his just hopes, and well-grounded expectations of support, of patronage, and advantage in life will be impaired; so that the real purpose is not a wager, but to secure such advantages supposed to depend on the life of another." 15