INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) - A new bar could soon be coming to a corner near you.
Friday, 279 alcohol permits were auctioned to bidders from across the state - 169 of which were for businesses in Marion County. The Alcohol and Tobacco Commission raised $3.8 million in the auction.
But there were some questionable businesses among the more than 200 bidders who packed the Government Center conference room for a piece of the action.
One bidder who got the attention of others competing for permits was a man who identified himself Martin Rogness on his application, and his as Liquor License R Us. Equally unusual was the number of licenses he was trying to buy: 36. Ten were in Marion County.
When we asked whether he was speculating, he wouldn't answer.
Travis Thickstun, spokesman for the Alcohol and Tobacco Commission confirms that speculating - buying licenses from the Alcohol and Tobacco commission and selling them to others at a profit - is illegal.
All bidders in Friday's auction had to pre-qualify. But we learned pre-qualification isn't difficult. Bidders simply turned in a one-page form and answered questions such as "Are all interested parties of sound mind." They then paid a fee.
Why didn't Rogness' unusual business name and the extraordinary number of permits on which he was bidding concern ATC leaders?
"I can't comment on that," Thickstun said. "I have no idea about his application. I don't know what his businesses are or are not."
Rogness wasn't the only bidder with a potential problem.
Gladys Botina is in a fight to keep her current license to sell beer and wine at her Hooka Lounge at 86th and Michigan streets. The local board denied her permit renewal following shootings and charges of underage drinking. Friday, she bid on another alcohol permit. The new one will allow her to sell beer, wine and liquor.
"There will be no problems because the customers that we are targeting right now are 21-up," Botina said.
Right now, her hookah bar admits those 18 and older. She said she believes allowing only those 21 and older in the bar will resolve her past issues.
Neighborhood groups say otherwise. But even though she bought a permit Friday, the local board will still have to approve it.
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