Gambling legend Curley forces Gibraltar climbdown over bet
Legendary gambler Barney Curley has forced the Gibraltar government into a climbdown that will see a group of his relatives collect more than €852,000 from a betting coup.
Mr Curley had masterminded an estimated £4m (€4.7m) betting coup on January 10, 2010, when four horses, two of which he trained himself, were backed at huge odds to win races at Brighton, Wolverhampton (two horses running) and Towchester in England.
Three of them went on to win with money pouring on to the horses both online and in betting shops.
But the Gibraltar Regulator ordered the locally regulated online gambling company -- Betfred.com -- to withhold more than €800,000 in winnings. Regulator Phil Brear insisted on the move, saying that Mr Curley and his associates had opened 20 online accounts "and operated those accounts in an unusual and irregular way, placing bets based exclusively on the use of inside information".
In the legal wrangle that followed -- in which Mr Curley was personally represented by Northern Ireland-based solicitor Andrew Montague from Irvinstown, Co Fermanagh -- Mr Curley's two sons-in-law claimed and are now to be paid £724,000 (€852,000), while his two nephews will get more than €87,000 and a friend of theirs €12,000.
The charismatic gambler, who has masterminded a series of betting coups down the years, denied he had any direct connections with the winning bets -- but last week a carefully worded statement was issued "jointly by all the parties involved" including Mr Curley, saying the matter had now been settled.
It said the Gibraltar Gambling Commissioners had decided not to pursue the matter any further and withdrew its objection to the bets being honoured.
"It was always a straightforward betting enterprise," said Mr Curley last Friday ahead of a coursing meeting. "You know I was always confident we would win."
Mr Curley, who was once sentenced to a jail term for running an illegal raffle of his stately home Middleton Park in Co Westmeath (overturned on appeal), is known for his nerves of steel in the betting ring. He said "as far as I am concerned that is the end of the saga".
The Betfred.com online gambling company was not involved in the litigation, as it was prevented from paying the bets by the Gibraltar Regulator.
A judicial review by the five claimants has been discontinued and the statement issued by both sides said: "Barney Curley joins with the Claimants at Petree (Gibraltar) Limited in expressing satisfaction that this matter between the account holders and the Gibraltar online bookmaker, has been satisfactorily resolved."
The statement did not give any details of the settlement and the parties involved will make no further comment on the matter.
Mr Curley said he was more interested in his DAFA charity in Zambia and supplying a new e-learning products to schools there, which he believes could transform the country.
"At the moment I am working very hard on this project -- the minute they see me coming they start singing and dancing and we could change their lives so much for the better if people would get behind this project," said Mr Curley.
He was thrilled to see Zambia recently win the Africa Nations Cup.
At 73, the former Jesuit seminarian says he has "never been happier" than when he is in Zambia, because nobody knows him or wants anything from him.
"I am still going strong but I want to do this before I can't go out there any more. . . it can be a very dangerous place and my time is getting short."