Illinois Officials Deny Casino Licensing due to Shooting

Hard Rock Casino project in Illinois has been rejected

An investor in the Hard Rock Casino project in Illinois has been rejected licensing due to a connection to a shooting in the past.

You know, they say that the past will come back to haunt you, and in many cases, it does. When it comes to criminal behavior, the mistakes of our past can affect the future in a negative manner. An investor and restaurateur in Illinois is now seeing his past come back to hurt him after being denied casino licensing for the new Hard Rock Casino.

Joseph Castrogiovanni is a prominent business owner in Rockford. He owns Giovanni’s Restaurant and Convention Center in the city. Plans were created to use the convention center building to house a temporary casino for the Hard Rock as it was being built. However, a prior shooting incident caused regulators to deny Castrogiovanni a casino supplier license.

Denied Licensing

The temporary casino space would be just over 37,000 square feet in size and house more than 700 slot games. With a temporary solution in place, the Hard Rock could begin offering services without waiting for the permanent structure to be completed.

For the Illinois Gaming Commission, the business owner was not suitable for a casino operator license. In reports, they stated that Castrogiovanni’s conduct and associations in the past would jeopardize the integrity of gaming. It would also discredit or tend to discredit the state and gaming.

The city of Rockford was confused about the decision due to the businessman’s character and reputation in the community. Michael Iasparro is an attorney representing Castrogiovanni who said in documents presented to the board that for decades his client has served on charity and nonprofit boards as well as being a successful business owner.

The attorney called the ruling ‘wholly inconsistent with the character of the man.’

So, what happened? What in the business owner’s past led the Board to rule in this manner? Apparently, he was involved in a shooting last year that the Board felt got in the way.

Private Residence Issue

Back in July, two individuals came onto the Castrogiovanni family property in search of a party they were to attend. The security system of Castrogovianni’s home alerted him of the presence of the individuals. He went outside with a handgun to see what they were doing.

One of the people in the vehicle that drove up to the home tried to open the car window to ask if the party was taking place at the home, reported that he was asked what he was doing and then there was gunfire. The men then left quickly and called police at a local gas station.

According to Castrogiovanni, he tried to fire warning shots into the air because he was in fear of his family’s safety. However, one of the bullets fired went into the back passenger door and ended up inside a front car seat.

Because of his actions, Castrogiovanni was charged with misdemeanor reckless conduct. However, the Board did not seem to be bothered by this charge due to the incident. What they didn’t like was the fact that he did not report the incident.

After the decision by the Board, Castrogiovanni decided to request a hearing with the regulator. He did this to clear his good name and reputation. For now, though, he will have to remove himself from the 815 Entertainment company that was used to bring Hard Rock International into the area with local investors.

The refusal of the license triggered certain clauses in the deal which allows the company to take over Castrogiovanni’s stake in the company and to acquire Giovani’s. The recent ruling will reportedly have no affect on the timeline for the casino to be completed.

Associate Writer: Geoff enjoys both live and online poker as well as casino games, and is particularly knowledgeable about the legal landscape of online gambling.