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.