Five local bars were recently denied video gambling licenses because of an Elmhurst couple’s failure to disclose more than $4,500 in political contributions they made over the last five years, according to information obtained from the Illinois Gaming Board through a Freedom of Information Request.
The Illinois Gaming Board denied licenses in November 2017 to Circle Inn, 7300 Circle Ave.; Carole’s Next Best Thing, 7307 Roosevelt Road; Pioneer Tap, 7443 Randolph St.; Angelo O’Leary’s, 7522 Madison St.; and Shortshop Lounge, 7425 Madison St.
Martin and Lynn Sorice, of Elmhurst, own those establishments. They did not respond to interview requests.
In December 2016 and February 2017, the couple applied for video gambling licenses for the five bars and restaurants, informing the board that they donated $1,300 to Forest Park Mayor Anthony Calderone and then-mayoral hopeful Chris Harris in 2015.
Other than those two contributions, they claimed that “the applicant nor its shareholder and/or offices have not made any political contributions, nor any loans, donations or other payments, to any candidate or office holder, directly or indirectly within the past five years,” according to denial notices sent to the Forest Park Review by the Illinois Gaming Board.
A background investigation by the Illinois Gaming Board revealed that, over the past four years, the Sorices donated $2,300 to the Citizens for Chris Harris political action committee, $1,300 to Forest Park PAC, and paid $500 to Proviso Together, a political action committee that backed four winning candidates in the April 2017 Proviso District 209 school board election.
The denial notice stated that in February 2003, the Sorices contributed $200 to Citizens for Anthony Calderone, and in March 2005 donated $200 to the 23rd Ward Regular Democratic Organization. Martin Sorice also disclosed that he is on a payment plan for $15,000 in federal taxes owed.
The bars may reapply for video gambling licenses in November 2018. The five establishments are the only ones in Forest Park where the Illinois Gaming Board has denied a license application.
“It is the board’s position that granting a license to any applicant who failed to provide complete and accurate information as part of the application process would not best serve the interests of the citizens of Illinois, nor protect the integrity of the video gaming industry,” the denial notice states.
Two other Sorice-owned Forest Park bars have video gambling licenses: Doc Ryan’s, 7432 Madison St., and Blueberry Hill, 427 Desplaines Ave.