The owner of a genuine Irish pub – not the kind you find on popular tourist beaches, but a real, old-fashioned Irish watering hole – is in hot water with authorities. He reportedly has been living off of more than just selling ale and bitters, dipping into the world of sports gambling to earn a little extra income. Unfortunately, he never bothered to go through the proper legal channels to start his additional enterprise, and regulators now want him to pay for breaking the law. In order to do that, though, they will have to find him first.
According to the Irish News, Herbert William Currie is the owner of Victoria Bar in Armagh, Northern Ireland, about 32 miles from Belfast. He is apparently a sports gambling entrepreneur, as well, and routinely allowed illegal gambling at his bar. As far as everyone can tell, he has been allowing the practice since March 2014 and has now been convicted on 24 charges of “carrying on a business or acting as a bookmaker” without a license.
As a result, Currie will have to hand over £2,400 (just over $3,000) in the form of a fine for his illegal activity. He has also been ordered to pay £24,000 ($30,900) in compensation to a local bookmaking company, Toal’s, which brought the case against him.
The breakdown of the fine includes £100 for each count of illegal bookmaking, and £2,000 for each of 12 counts payable to Toal’s. The legal bookmaker became involved because the illegal operation of the sportsbook was never properly addressed by authorities, according to the company’s managing director, Gary Toal. He explains, “It’s very simple – bookmakers aren’t allowed to sell alcohol and publicans aren’t allowed to facilities bookmaking on their premises and cannot act as a betting intermediary. This has been a problem for many years, and we will continue to challenge pubs and publicans so long as the illegal practice persists. The next round of pubs license renewals comes around in 2022, and even at this stage we have our eye on at least 10 premises where we believe illegal gambling is rife, and we’ll be attempting to block them from trading.”
Currie was prosecuted in absentia during a hearing at the Laganside Courts in Belfast. No one is quite sure where he is, but it’s believed that he made his way south to the sunny weather of Spain. Authorities are hoping he’ll step forward and pay the penalties by the deadline of June 30 so they won’t have to allocate resources to try to track him down, wherever he may be.