Illinois Gaming Board Revokes Restaurant's License after Discovering the Owner's Criminal Past

By Michael Klazema on 8/10/2015
After a unanimous vote, the Illinois Gaming Board will revoke the video gambling licensed held by Rockford-based establishment, Mr. C's Family Restaurant. The decision was made in light of a recent report, which found that the proprietor of Mr. C's is a convicted felon. Evidently, the business owner has a conviction on his record for embezzling $146,000 from a hotel in South Carolina. The problem is, the Illinois Gaming Board didn't know about the conviction, not because the proprietor of Mr. C's lied about his criminal history or because the board didn't run background checks, but because the conviction didn't show up on the background checks that the board did run.

So how come the conviction didn't show up? If the owner of Mr. C's Family Restaurant is to be believed, it shouldn't have shown up: the man told reporters that he thought his conviction had been expunged, which is why he left the felony fraud charge off his 2013 application for a video gambling machine license. If the conviction was expunged, which, judging by the fact that it didn't turn up on the national criminal database fingerprint checks that the Illinois Gaming Board requires, seems likely, then the board cannot legally use that conviction as a reason to deny Mr. C and his business a gambling machine license.

Not that the damage hasn't already been done. While the owner of Mr. C's Family Restaurant has 21 days until his gambling machine license is officially taken away, in which time he could appeal the board's decision, his name has already been dragged through the dirt in association with a criminal conviction that may or may not have been expunged. Indeed, according to a report published by the Rockford Register Star, officials with Winnebago County, the county in which Mr. C's is located, have launched an investigation into the liquor license held by the establishment.

Just as the Illinois Gaming Board can deny video gambling machine licenses for criminal history, the Winnebago County Liquor Commission has a history of not issuing liquor licenses to businesses run by convicted felons. Interestingly, the background check run by Winnebago County on Mr. C also didn't turn up his felony fraud conviction from South Carolina. The county runs state police and FBI registry checks on liquor license applicants.

The bottom line here is that someone from the Illinois Gaming Board should have looked into whether or not Mr. C's felony conviction was indeed expunged before making any decisions or public statements regarding his case. Losing his video gambling machines, which the Rockford Register Star says have grossed a little more than $200,000 since 2013—could itself impact the Mr. C's Family Restaurant. The loss of a liquor license could be potentially even more damaging, not to mention the way this news, which has been published in newspapers as large as the Chicago Tribune, will impact the public image of the proprietor and the restaurant.

On the other hand, if Mr. C's conviction actually wasn't expunged, then this story poses a completely different question: why did the background checks for two major state licensing boards fail to uncover a major felony conviction?


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