A wager is a bet; a contract by which two parties or more agree that a certain sum of money, or other thing, shall be paid or delivered to one of them, on the happening or not happening of an uncertain event.
The law does not prohibit all wagers.
To restrain wagers within the bounds of justice the following conditions must be observed: 1. Each of the parties must have the right to dispose of the thing which is the object of the wager. 2. Each must give a perfect and full consent to the contract, 3. There must he equality between the parties. 4. There must be good faith between them. 5. The wager must not be forbidden by law. In general, it seems that a wager is legal and maybe enforced in a court of law, if it be not, 1st, Contrary to public policy, or immoral; or if it do not in some other respect tend to the detriment of the public. 2d. If it do not affect the interest, feelings, or character of a third person.
Wagers on the event of an election laid before the poll is open or after it is closed are unlawful. And wagers are against public policy if they are in restraint of marriage made as to the mode of playing an illegal game or on an abstract speculative question of law or judicial practice, not arising out of circumstances in which the parties have a real interest.
Wagers as to the sex of an individual or whether an unmarried woman had borne or would have a child are illegal; as unnecessarily leading to painful and indecent considerations. The supreme court of Pennsylvania have laid it down as a rule, that every bet about the age, or height, or weight, or wealth, or circumstances, or situation of any person, is illegal; and this whether the subject of the bet be man, woman, or child, married or single, native or foreigner, in this country or abroad. And it seems that a wager between two coach-proprietors, whether or not a particular person would go by one of their coaches is illegal, as exposing that person to inconvenience.
In the case even of a legal wager, the authority of a stakeholder, like that of an arbitrator, may be rescinded by either party before the event happens. And if after his authority has been countermanded, and the stake has been demanded, he refuse to deliver it, trover or assumpsit for money had and received is maintainable. And where the wager is in its nature illegal, the stake may be recovered, even after the event, on demand made before it has been paid over.