Gambling legal and available in Rockford - WREX.com – Rockford’s News Leader

Gambling legal and available in Rockford

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After a year, owners of a Rockford restaurant get through the paperwork and approval to set up gambling in their establishment.

Giovanni's Restaurant & Convention Center President Joe Castrogiovanni says in 2008 the restaurant and bar scene was hit hard by an economic downturn. He's hoping this will help the establishment by bringing in extra revenue.

"We're hoping this is going to make up a small percentage of what we've lost." -says Castrogiovanni.

The bright lights of five new video gaming terminals add some color and character to a corner in Big Al's Bar. But, according to Castrogiovanni, getting to today wasn't easy.

"The process started over a year ago, but there's been a lot of roadblocks with the state." -he says.

The operator behind these five machines, Triple 7 Illinois, manages about 90 accounts from Machesney Park to Peoria. They made it possible for Giovanni's to get these machines up and running.

"We feel very fortunate and privileged that we're one of the licensed operators that are in a position to go live today, a lot of them are not." -says Triple 7 Illinois Operations Manager John Pasquale.

He says only 30% of licensed operators have received financing approval through the Illinois Gaming Board.

 "That seems to be the biggest hold up in licensed operators getting their machines out." -Pasquale adds.

The machines take bets from a penny to $2, with a $500 maximum winning.

Despite a slow-acting state government, Castrogiovanni thinks this is just the beginning for gambling in Illinois.

"It's like the first toe in the water, just checking it out and seeing. Obviously if this generates some productive revenue then I think it's something that, especially in the state of Illinois in its financial crisis, would be a benefit." -he explains.

Pasquale says if everything runs smoothly for Giovanni's and their five new terminals, the business could make $100,000 a year in extra revenue.

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