Joe Coral was actually Joseph Kagarlitsky who was born in 1904 and died in 1996. Coral was born in Warsaw, Poland. His father died at an early age, leaving his mother to try and support the entire family. His mother decided to move the family in 1912 with a lot of other migrants seeking to get out of Eastern Europe and into the UK. It was this migration that created the name change. It was easier for him to get a job with a more English sounding name. He was in school up until 14 where he proved he had a head for numbers. He was in a clerk’s position at a lamp making company, but this also allowed him to meet bookmakers and became a runner.
He lost his job for concentrating too much on the bookmaker side of things. Still, Joe was hired at a London advertising agency, which allowed him to continue his gambling ways at a billiards club in Stoke Newington. In 1927 he left the position for advertising his own business at Harringay and White City greyhound tracks. He continued in trackside betting. Unfortunately, there was also an issue in 1924 of his legal citizenship. The courts fined him and his brother 20 pounds. It may be why he continued to be against the law up until 1952.
Joe Coral often ran legal and illegal bookmaker facilities. His legitimate side was at the greyhound races with credit betting using cheques. It was the most lucrative of his businesses. By the 30s he had around 70 to 80 agents helping collect bets from pubs, back alleys, and shops. He also took over from Bill Chandler, who was a Hoxton bookie. Chandler could not compete with Coral’s business.
Charles Sabini was taking note of Coral though. Charles or Darby Sabini as he was called was a gang leader.
He headed the Sabini racecourse gang which ran the London underground. Sabini was one to have police and political connections, which made things tougher for Coral, but he still defended himself well. Finally, Sabini moved on to Brighton which ended most of the pressure Coral was feeling. By the end of the 30s Joe Coral was perhaps the largest regional bookmaker in England. War created a mess, making the betting business come to a halt. Coral was still busy despite the races closing down. He had a betting office in Stoke Newington in 1941, which ran throughout the war for bets on sports. It was a legal business because cash did not change hands. The 50s finally allowed gambling due to changing of attitudes. The Betting and Gambling Act of 1960 helped legalise gambling for Coral.
He also had trouble with his citizenship all throughout his life; however, he was still able to run businesses and become one of the top bookmakers like William Hill. It took until 1963 for Coral to gain legalised operations where he began diversifying into casinos and bingo halls. He died due to lung cancer in the 90s.