Giovanni’s denied temporary Hard Rock Casino license due to owner’s 2020 shooting arrest

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Joseph Castrogiovanni's attorney demands hearing to "establish good character and restore (the family's) good name"

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — In April, the Illinois Gaming Board denied a temporary casino license to Giovanni’s Restaurant and Convention Center after owner Joseph Castrogiovanni failed to report he had been arrested for shooting at an occupied car in his driveway, new records show.

According to documents obtained using the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), Castrogiovanni was arrested for Aggravated Discharge of a Firearm for an incident which occurred on July 23rd, 2020, during which he reportedly fired two shots at a car in the driveway of his home on Weldon Road, with at least one of the bullets penetrating the car.

No one was injured in the incident.

Michael Iasparro, of the legal firm Hinshaw & Culbertson, said the incident happened late in the evening of the 23rd, and “stemmed from a reasonable fear for his (Castrogiovanni) and his wife’s safety.”

According to his attorney, Castrogiovanni’s security system alerted him to an unfamiliar car in the couple’s private driveway, which stopped several times before approaching the front of the house. After he allegedly told the two male occupants to leave his property, Castrogiovanni fired a shot over the car and accidentally struck the car with a second shot.

Castrogiovanni, 69, pled guilty to Reckless Conduct in October and was sentenced to one year of probation in Ogle County.

In its decision to deny Giovanni’s Gambling Supplier Application, the Gaming Board claimed Castrogiovanni did not disclose the incident to the board until September 15th, nearly two months after the arrest. The IGB rules require timely notification of all arrests.

Furthermore, the Gaming Board Administrator Marcus Fructher said he recommended denial of a supplier’s license “based on conduct and associations that would jeopardize the integrity of gaming and discredit or attempt to discredit the state and Illinois gaming.”

Iasparro has filed a motion demanding a hearing with the Board to establish what was meant by that, saying that during his regulatory interview, Castrogiovanni was “asked dozens of questions about other individuals in the Rockford community, many of whom had names of Italian lineage, and many of whom have long passed.”

“Simply put, Mr. and Mrs. Castrogiovanni do not have any affiliation or association with organized crime, Italian or otherwise. Nor are they affiliated with or associates of any other criminal element,” Iasparro argued.

Iasparro says Castrogiovanni is requesting the hearing to “clear his good name and impeccable reputation, and to establish by clear and convincing evidence his suitability for licensure.”

As part of Rockford’s plan to bring a Hard Rock Casino to the city, Giovanni’s, 610 N Bell School Rd, was meant to serve as a temporary casino while the permanent casino complex was under construction.

Plan for a temporary casino at Giovannis. Photo: Hard Rock International

815 Entertainment, the investment group trying to bring a casino to Rockford, is pursuing ownership of Giovanni’s.

Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara released a statement saying the change in ownership will not slow down the casino process.

Currently, Giovanni’s is still owned by the Castrogiovanni’s.

Hard Rock International wants to build a permanent casino at the site of the former Clock Tower Resort, at 7801 E. State Street.

The gaming commission has not yet approved a license for the permanent casino, which would create 1,200 permanent jobs and another 1,000 during construction.

If approved, Hard Rock will have nearby competition after Wisconsin and the Bureau of Indian Affairs gave final approval to plans for a $405 million Ho-Chunk Casino in Beloit, at the southeast corner of Willowbrook and Colley roads between Willowbrook Road and Interstate 39-90.

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