Pro-, anti-video gaming forces report campaign contributions

99% of Let Forest Park Grow's contributions come from video gaming companies

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By Nona Tepper

Let Forest Park Grow-Vote No has received $59,200 in funds to advance the cause of legalized video gaming in Forest Park, with the majority of contributions coming from gambling terminal companies, according to a quarterly earnings report filed with the Illinois State Board of Elections on Oct. 15. The report tracks contributions made from the ballot initiative committee from July 1 to Sept. 30. 

American Video Gaming LLC, a terminal operator based in Woodridge, donated $7,500 to the cause on Aug. 22; Gold Rush Gaming, another operator based in Hoffman Estates, donated $28,700 to Let Forest Park Grow's mission on Aug. 22; Universal Gaming Group, based in Addison, donated $6,000 to the initiative on Aug. 24; and Delaware North Companies, a global food and hospitality firm headquartered in Buffalo, New York, donated $15,000 to the cause on Sept. 4.

Glen White, spokesman for Delaware North, said the firm is the parent company of GEM, a video gaming operator in Illinois. Delaware North also manages entertainment at the Chicago White Sox's Guaranteed Rate Field and Jumer's Casino and Hotel in Rock Island.

"Our support of Let Forest Park Grow-Vote No is aimed at preserving the right of local businesses to operate state-regulated video gaming, which provides them with revenue to reinvest and grow their businesses and also provides revenue to the village for the benefit of taxpayers," White said in a statement.  

None of the companies responded to interview requests about how they found out about Let Forest Park Grow or why they supported the cause. The Illinois Video Gaming Act requires that revenues be shared equally between the terminal operators and their establishments.

Gold Rush Gaming has installed machines at Oak Leaf Lounge, O'Sullivan's Public House, Doc Ryan's Bar & Grill, Slainte, Mugsy's, The Beacon and Goldyburgers, according to its website. Universal Gaming Group has provided video gambling machines to R Place and Healy's Westside, according to its website.

Two bar owners also donated to Let Forest Park Grow's cause. 

O'Sullivan's Public House donated $500 to the initiative on Aug. 23. James Watts, chairman of Let Forest Park Grow, owns O'Sullivan's. Martin Sorice donated $1,000 to the cause on Aug. 25. Sorice and his wife Lynn own Blueberry Hill, Doc Ryan's, Pioneer Tap and Shortstop Lounge.

Let Forest Park Grow has spent $32,072 on Edge Contact Services in Palos Heights, transferring $10,000 to the Palos Heights consulting firm on Aug. 31 and Sept. 18, as well as $12,072 on Sept. 11. The group also spent $2,050 at McGaffer's Saloon on Sept. 18, for a "Why You Should Vote No" pizza and beer meet-and-greet. The ballot initiative committee purchased $649 worth of advertising with Wednesday Journal Inc., the newspaper company that publishes the Forest Park Review.

Meanwhile, Let Forest Park Vote on Video Gaming has $2,739 in its bank account, with most appearing to come from residents, according to its most recent quarterly earnings report. Gina Thomas donated $350 to the cause on Aug. 15. The Review was unable to reach Thomas. 

CONTACT: ntepper@wjinc.com   

Reader Comments

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Kate Nolan  

Posted: October 18th, 2018 8:20 PM

John Gorny, we at Let Forest Park Vote (the group that fought for the vote and that hopes you will vote YES to prohibit gambling) is conducting NO robocalls. We are canvassing door to door and are distributing one flyer. In addition, we will be mailing a thank-you note to all who signed the petition. Finally, as you know, we are active on Facebook, trying to get the message out to vote YES.

Gia Rombakis  

Posted: October 18th, 2018 6:24 PM

Thanks Bill for pointing out the error I actually did make. Yes, Let Forest Park Vote received the almost $11K. My apologies for the error.

Andrew Cooper  

Posted: October 18th, 2018 9:35 AM

Forces is a noun, not a verb.

Bill Dwyer  

Posted: October 17th, 2018 9:47 PM

Ah. OK, Gia. Got it. Speaking of misstating things, it's not "Let Forest Park Grow has received about $10,900 not including the recent GoFundMe campaign," as you write. It should be "Let Forest Park VOTE.."

Gia Rombakis  

Posted: October 17th, 2018 9:03 PM

Bill, I am not on the committee for either LFPV or LFPG, see my comment to Jordan below. I looked at the reports that were available to the public. You will need to direct your inquiry elsewhere.

Gia Rombakis  

Posted: October 17th, 2018 9:01 PM

Jordan, I looked at ALL of the quarters that were reported by both sides to date. Nothing I have stated is illegitimate as you claim and I am voicing my opinions and questions as a resident of Forest Park, Illinois, which is my right to do so.

John Gorny  

Posted: October 17th, 2018 5:44 PM

Who came up with the idea of doing robocalls to people in Forest Park asking them how they will vote on this issue? I received a call asking me if I intended to vote next month. I had no problem answering yes. Then I was asked how I would vote on the legalization of gambling. I was given the choices of yes, no, or undecided. Take a one way trip to the place of eternal punishment was not an option. I hung up without answering the question.

Bill Dwyer  

Posted: October 17th, 2018 9:43 AM

A total of 44 named people, some who contributed more than once, gave a total of $3,253 through Go Fund Me. In addition there were 25 anonymous contributions totaling $2,537, for a total of $6,290 as of Oct. 16. . Up through June 30, ISBE records show that Let FP Vote, which was formed in late 2016, raised $13,427 and spent $10,944.92 on legal expenses fighting its court battle to simply get its referendum on the ballot. In the 3rd quarter through Sept. 30, it raised another $776. . So since December 2016, Let FP Vote has raised a total of $20,493, from between 50 to 60 people. . . Now, Gia, since you're so concerned with full disclosure, can you tell us all how much the pro-gambling side spent on their legal bills?

Jordan Kuehn from Forest Park  

Posted: October 17th, 2018 12:58 AM

Gia, This is an apples to apples comparison of the last quarter. If Mr. Watts discloses what was raised and spent on the legal challenge then a discussion of total amounts raised is appropriate. All GoFundMe accounting is reported immaculately. As a village employee you might want to reign in your spurious claims against the FPR and LFPV.

Geoff Binns-Calvey  

Posted: October 16th, 2018 11:02 PM

Oops, I misstated. It wasn't nearly as much as $11,000.

Geoff Binns-Calvey  

Posted: October 16th, 2018 11:00 PM

What I got from the article was that the pro gaming side has almost $60,000 to spend, with 99% from out-of-town and out-of-state gambling outfits; and the Let Forest Park Vote side has had as much as $11,000, mostly gone now, and almost all donated from Forest Park residents and homeowners. That's the big takeaway here.

Gina Garrison  

Posted: October 16th, 2018 5:30 PM

This particular article doesn't state the total LFPV has received. It only says how much money they have in the bank right now. But they've reported on it before. This is the first time they've been able to report on the Pro Gambling contributions because it was just released yesterday which is very weird. I thought that any donation over 1k needed to be reported within 5 days but either I'm mistaken or the bars being bankrolled by the gambling lobby just don't care.

Gia Rombakis  

Posted: October 16th, 2018 5:14 PM

Both the pro and anti gaming committees have a legal obligation to report their revenue. Stating that either committee was forced to do so is misleading. What is also misleadning is an article that devotes only 4 paltry lines to one side- LFPV and misstates the total amount revenue they have received to date and yet scrutinizes LFPG. Let Forest Park Grow has received about $10,900 not including the recent GoFundMe campaign. What happened to fact checking?

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