Sports bar feels the heat

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 7:41 AM ET

A three-month police investigation has put the future of one of Edmonton's most popular sports bars in doubt.

The owners of Mo's Sports Bar face several bookmaking charges after an Edmonton Police Service and Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission undercover operation.

"They were charged with unlawfully engaging in bookmaking, unlawfully recording and registering bets, and receiving messages by telephone relating to bookmaking," said Robyn Cochrane of the AGLC, highlighting the major charges.

Doug Munro has been served with two charges. Kim Seppola has four bookmaking charges.

But Seppola denies the allegations.

"We feel we are completely innocent and we are sure we are going to be proven (correct) in court," he said.

A police investigation between April and July last summer led several Edmonton police officers to walk into the bar on July 29 to serve the six charges, which promptly caused a domino effect.

The AGLC then cancelled the bar's liquor and gaming licence. (Mo's has four VLTs from the AGLC, a provincial government agency.)

However, Munro and Seppola quickly appealed the licence ruling to keep the doors open.

With the appeal process still in court, the alcohol is still flowing, the VLTs are still humming and the Olympic Games are being broadcast to patrons at Mo's.

"We were apparently going to be reconvened (by the judge) on Feb. 16, but that has now changed and we expect it to ( be reconvened) in the next two or three weeks," explained Cochrane.

Seppola believes he should be able to retain the liquor and gaming licence until he appears in court to face his criminal charges in early May.

"I'm concerned about getting punished before being proven guilty," said Seppola, who offered very little detail about his case.

"I think we have a right to be proven guilty.

"They're crucifying (Janet) Gretzky and like (that case), we're innocent until proven guilty."

Gretzky is being tied to Rick Tocchet's alleged bookmaking gambling ring in the United States.

In that investigation, the New Jersey State Police allege $1.7 million US was wagered during a 40-day span.

There have been no reports of how much money is involved in the Seppola/Munro investigation.

If found guilty, the owners would likely be fined.

A jail sentence isn't required until a second offence.

But more importantly to Seppola and Munro, a guilty verdict would mean the bar would close if new owners couldn't immediately be found.

A staple on the Edmonton sports scene for 15 years with a previously clean history with AGLC, Mo's employs nearly 50 people.

Ironically, May could be one of the busiest months in more than a year for local sports bars.

After the NHL lockout last year and the smoking ban this summer, bars could finally get a break this spring if the Edmonton Oilers make the playoffs.


Videos

Photos