The video gambling company led by former state Sen. Michael Bond has been sold to J&J Ventures Gaming, the second-largest video gambling machine operator in the state.
Tap Room Gaming was the operator behind about 4% of the 33,000 video gambling machines dotting restaurants, bars, truck stops and other establishments across the state, according to an analysis of Illinois Gaming Board data. J&J Ventures controlled about 31% of the state’s machines before the acquisition.
The sale closed Dec. 23, and Bond, the company’s now-former CEO, no longer has “any ownership stake or management authority” at Tap Room Gaming, spokesman Jimmy Centers said.
Bond had been one of several partners who owned the Libertyville-based company, according to state disclosure records.
“Tap Room Gaming’s foundation has been built on customer service,” Bond said in a news release. “We used our expertise in the industry to help drive success for our customers. We wanted to continue this tradition and know that each establishment’s partnership we’ve built over the years will continue to succeed, which is why we’ve chosen J&J to move our customers forward.”
In a press release, J&J CEO Bob Willenborg said his team “welcomes all Tap Room customers and employees.”
Both Tap Room Gaming and J&J Ventures Gaming had donated to a political action committee called the Waukegan Voter Alliance that figured prominently in last year’s Waukegan aldermanic election.
Donations from the Waukegan Voter Alliance made up two-thirds of all donations to current aldermen and their 2019 challengers since December 2018, state campaign disclosure filings show. Three other groups and companies with ties to Bond were responsible for another 19% of contributions.
Bond is also one of the key figures behind North Point Casino, one of three proposals vying at the state level for the casino license earmarked for Waukegan.
Tap Room Gaming “had no involvement in the North Point Casino bid” and therefore “it should be clear that the company’s sale is not related to Michael’s effort to bring North Point Casino to Waukegan,” Centers said in an email.
“After building a highly successful business in Tap Room Gaming, an opportunity presented itself to sell the business to a well-respected company within the industry,” Centers said. “After months of talks, an agreement was reached and the sale closed on December 23, 2019.”
J&J Ventures is in its 90th year of business and was one of the first companies licensed by the state as a video gambling terminal operator.
The acquisition will allow the Effingham-based company to “expand further into the Chicago area,” according to the release.
J&J Gaming was licensed in Illinois in January of 2012 and went “live” in October of 2012.