Early September is now the target date for the opening of the government-run casino gaming school on St. Croix.
The school, to be operated by the Department of Tourism, was to have opened Aug. 2 in the new Frederiksted Mall. But according to acting Commissioner of Tourism Monique Sibilly-Hodge, construction delays have forced a postponement.
Treasure Bay Corp., which owns a casino in Biloxi, Miss., is scheduled to open a casino in the Divi Carina Bay Resort on St. Croixs southeast shore in December. The staff is to consist at least 80 percent of Virgin Islanders.
When Casino Control Commission member Dennis Brows term ended on July 16, the commission was left with only two members — the chair, Eileen Petersen, and Imelda Dizon. Without a quorum the CCC cannot grant licenses to casino applicants or companies wishing to do business with casinos, nor can it approve candidates to teach in the gaming school.
However, Petersen said, she and Dizon can take interim steps to get the school up and running until a third member is in place. She expects license applications for several potential gaming instructors to be submitted to the commission next week.
Once applications are received, CCCs director of gaming enforcement, Oliver David, will conduct background checks on the applicants. Because all the instructors expected to apply already are licensed in other gaming jurisdictions, Petersen said, the process will go quickly.
"The remaining two of us are fully aware of what is required. I dont anticipate any lack of action," she said. "Once a recommendation is made, we can grant a temporary license, pending a vote by the commission as a whole."
Gov. Charles Turnbull nominated Lloyd McAlpin to the CCC on July 19. The attorney general's office must conduct a background check of nominees before they go up for approval before the Senate. No timeline has been given for that process.
"The whole nomination process is outside my jurisdiction to even comment," Petersen said.
The V.I. Casino and Resort Control Act mandates that 80 percent of all casino workers be Virgin Islands residents. It also requires that six months prior to the time the CCC issues its first casino license, training must be provided to resident workers.
The commission can amend the time requirement with an interim motion, and then vote on it when a third member is on board to provide a quorum.
As of July 7, Brow said at the July 16 Casino Commission meeting, 82 residents had submitted employment registration forms to work in Treasure Bays casino.
The casino act mandates varying lengths of training for different positions on the casino floor. For example, an applicant wishing to deal blackjack needs 160 hours of training, while for baccarat and roulette it is 200 hours, and for craps it is 240.