Five bars denied gambling licenses by state board

State gaming board cites incomplete information on campaign donations

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By Nona Tepper

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.

CONTACT: ntepper@wjinc.com

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Reader Comments

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Pam Fontana  

Posted: March 30th, 2018 9:37 AM

Timothy, I think you need to read and comprehend what the article said. It doesn't state anywhere that anyone cheated on taxes. You ever buy anything and pay it off with payments? Don't you think if he cheated on his taxes, the Review would have made that the headline and not some snarky extra in her article? We get it that you don't/can't go in bars any more. Relax.

Bill Dwyer  

Posted: March 28th, 2018 5:57 PM

It's NOT surmising. 400 respondents, let alone 951 or 1,400, is far more than adequate for a representative sample of FoPa voters. That said, while I disagree agree with Gia on that, I totally agree that voters should vote based on what is best for the village, not on how pissed off they may be. I hope people can see past the sleazy and dishonest tactics of some bar owners, but I can understand if they don't. If so, the local video gambling crowd will only have themselves to blame.

Gia Rombakis  

Posted: March 28th, 2018 5:17 PM

@Greg, you can "surmise" all you want, it's still only 951 votes that anti-vg supporters inflated to let people believe that a "2 to 1" vote was bigger than it actually was. I believed them at first, now I know better and will vote according to what's best for the Village of Forest Park rather than the petty interests of some of it's residents. By the way, I don't gamble but I don't feel I have the right to tell other people they shouldn't or can't.

Bill Dwyer  

Posted: March 28th, 2018 9:32 AM

Exactly. If pollsters got 951 responses for a statewide poll, that number would be adequate. So 951 responses in a village like FoPa is way more than enough.

Andrew Cooper  

Posted: March 28th, 2018 9:12 AM

Gia, the results were representative of the approximately 1400 voters who turned out to vote in that election. Yes, I'd like to see better voter turnout in general. But, as they say, elections are determined by those who show up to vote.

Greg Mitchell  

Posted: March 28th, 2018 9:05 AM

@gia, You are correct that 951 votes is not a representative sample of all Forest Parkers. It is, however a representative sample of the people in Forest Park who vote, that care enough about the issue to show up and have their say. I surmise, by your position in the comments section, that you are pro-gaming and not a statistician that is offended by sampling error. If the previous votes do not cause concern among bar owners and the pro-gaming crowd, they are sticking their heads in the sand.

Gia Rombakis from Forest Park  

Posted: March 28th, 2018 7:13 AM

951. It was only 951 voters. While that may be 68% it is not representative of the entire Village of Forest Park.

Bill Dwyer  

Posted: March 28th, 2018 6:48 AM

Quite an assumption there, Hinsdale. Do you actual have proof that Sorice "cheated" on his taxes? Or are you just making sweeping assumptions based on a single published fact?

Timothy Hinsdale  

Posted: March 27th, 2018 10:32 PM

"Martin Sorice also disclosed that he is on a payment plan for $15,000 in federal taxes owed.". This sanctimonious loudmouth has the gall to criticise others. I'm not upset he made the political contributions. I'm pissed because he cheated on his taxes. What else has he cheated on?

Michelle Andres Fitz-Henry  

Posted: March 27th, 2018 8:08 PM

68% of the voters in Forest Park voted they did not want video gambling in the town they lived in. Obviously that didn't matter to the leadership of Forest Park. Let this be a cautionary tale to other communities dealing with this issue.

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