Illinois Restaurant to Be Temporary Hard Rock

The group bringing a Hard Rock Casino to Rockford, Illinois, will convert a local restaurant into a temporary gaming hall. The owner of the restaurant, called Giovanni’s (l.), applied for a casino supplier’s license but was declined.

The group behind bringing a Hard Rock Casino to Rockford, Illinois—815 Entertainment—announced it will purchase Giovanni’s Restaurant and Convention Center and renovate it for a temporary casino.

The Illinois Gaming Board denied Giovanni’s request for a casino supplier’s license when the restaurant sought to withdraw its application at the last minute. No reason was given for the late request, but Gaming Board Director Marcus Fruchter alluded to “conduct and associations that would jeopardize the integrity of gaming and discredit or attempt to discredit the state and Illinois gaming.

“Staff in our investigations division, our licensing division, our financial audit division, our legal staff and many others have been working on this application and this matter for many months, dedicated a considerable amount of time and effort into this application into this matter and it has been the board’s consistent practice to not grant request to withdraw on the eve of full consideration by the board.”

The denial triggered a clause in the lease and ownership agreements that allows 815 Entertainment to acquire the property and the Castrogiovanni family’s stake in the company, according to 815 Entertainment attorney Terence Dunleavy.

Joe Castrogiovanni explained, “I have decided to remove myself and my wife from the IGB licensing process and work with the Hard Rock folks to facilitate their realization of the project, knowing they will put forth a wonderful product for future employees and customers. The city of Rockford deserves nothing but the best, and we will continue to proudly support this project and all that it will bring to our region.”

Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara said, “We are aware that the current owners of the temporary casino site will be selling the location to existing investors. We do not anticipate that this change in ownership will slow down the casino process.” The IGB had unanimously approved a preliminary suitability study for the Hard Rock Casino in February.

The temporary casino inside Giovanni’s would be open for 18 months to 24 months while the Hard Rock Casino is built. It would house 736 slots, a snack bar, casino bar and existing Legacy Restaurant,

State Rep. Dave Syverson commented, “I feel bad for the Castrogiovanni family because they’ve done so much and given so much to the community but it sounds like there’s still a win-win in this case that they’re able to sell the building and move forward with the project.”