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CASINO COMMISSION: LET THE DICE ROLL

Despite some loose ends in testing gambling machines, the three-member Casino Control Commission Monday gave the Divi Carina Bay Resort and Casino the green light to start gambling.
Like much of St. Croix’s more-than-five-year odyssey for a casino, clearing the final hurdle – granting a certificate of operation – wasn’t pretty. With the casino’s ribbon-cutting set for Tuesday and the public grand opening Friday, it was hard to tell Monday afternoon what was the driving force behind the casino’s opening: the V.I. Casino Control Act or the already delayed opening.
Commission members and personnel were at the East End casino checking to see if proper procedures were being followed right up to their scheduled meeting Monday. That’s on top of almost nonstop work by the commission, slot machine testers, construction crews and casino managers.
But even with all the last-minute activity, commissioners learned during their meeting that critical tests of gaming machines had not been completed – a prerequisite for a certificate of operation.
According to Oliver David, the director of gaming enforcement, a problem in testing electronic gaming devices caused contractors to be delayed. David told commissioners that the problem would be resolved and testing finished by late Monday or early Tuesday. The official ribbon-cutting is set for 4 p.m.
"They (the contractors) don’t foresee the problem being solved later than (Monday) or tomorrow morning," David said.
Along with another issue – the installation of a lock for a roulette wheel before testing – commissioners Imelda Dizon, Lloyd McAlpin and Eileen Petersen voted to grant the certificate of operation pending the completion of testing and subsequent inspection by gaming enforcement officers.
"We have no doubt the licensee has no intentions of shortcutting the requirements," Dizon said.
Meanwhile, hiring at the casino resort has increased. According to McAlpin, between Oct. 27, 1999, and last Thursday, the resort-casino has hired 271 people, 212 of whom are bonafide residents, meaning people either born in the territory or who have lived in the islands for five years.
McAlpin said another 33 work-permit applications were submitted to the commission Monday afternoon.
The Casino Control Act mandates that at the end of its first year of operation, a casino-hotel must be staffed 65 percent by locals. The Divi Carina Bay is at 78 percent.
Grapetree Shores Inc. owns the Divi Carina Bay Resort and Casino. The company has leased the gambling operation to Treasure Bay V.I. Corp., a local affiliate of Treasure Bay Corp., which operates a large casino in Biloxi, Miss.
A good portion of the work done on the casino over the last several weeks is being done for the second time. Hurricane Lenny virtually destroyed the second floor of the casino in November and subsequently blew away a Dec. 15 opening.
The remodeled resort reopened on Nov. 3, a few weeks before Lenny struck the island. The resort, on Grapetree Bay on St. Croix’s southeast shore, had stood derelict since 1989's Hurricane Hugo.
The totally refurbished resort will be managed by a Divi Resorts affiliate. It features 126 oceanfront rooms in the main hotel and 20 one-bedroom suites in four hillside villas.
The two-story casino will have about 300 slot machines, 10 blackjack tables, two roulette tables and one craps table, a buffet, snack bar and gift shop. It will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 a.m seven days a week.

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Despite some loose ends in testing gambling machines, the three-member Casino Control Commission Monday gave the Divi Carina Bay Resort and Casino the green light to start gambling.
Like much of St. Croix’s more-than-five-year odyssey for a casino, clearing the final hurdle – granting a certificate of operation - wasn’t pretty. With the casino’s ribbon-cutting set for Tuesday and the public grand opening Friday, it was hard to tell Monday afternoon what was the driving force behind the casino’s opening: the V.I. Casino Control Act or the already delayed opening.
Commission members and personnel were at the East End casino checking to see if proper procedures were being followed right up to their scheduled meeting Monday. That’s on top of almost nonstop work by the commission, slot machine testers, construction crews and casino managers.
But even with all the last-minute activity, commissioners learned during their meeting that critical tests of gaming machines had not been completed – a prerequisite for a certificate of operation.
According to Oliver David, the director of gaming enforcement, a problem in testing electronic gaming devices caused contractors to be delayed. David told commissioners that the problem would be resolved and testing finished by late Monday or early Tuesday. The official ribbon-cutting is set for 4 p.m.
"They (the contractors) don’t foresee the problem being solved later than (Monday) or tomorrow morning," David said.
Along with another issue – the installation of a lock for a roulette wheel before testing – commissioners Imelda Dizon, Lloyd McAlpin and Eileen Petersen voted to grant the certificate of operation pending the completion of testing and subsequent inspection by gaming enforcement officers.
"We have no doubt the licensee has no intentions of shortcutting the requirements," Dizon said.
Meanwhile, hiring at the casino resort has increased. According to McAlpin, between Oct. 27, 1999, and last Thursday, the resort-casino has hired 271 people, 212 of whom are bonafide residents, meaning people either born in the territory or who have lived in the islands for five years.
McAlpin said another 33 work-permit applications were submitted to the commission Monday afternoon.
The Casino Control Act mandates that at the end of its first year of operation, a casino-hotel must be staffed 65 percent by locals. The Divi Carina Bay is at 78 percent.
Grapetree Shores Inc. owns the Divi Carina Bay Resort and Casino. The company has leased the gambling operation to Treasure Bay V.I. Corp., a local affiliate of Treasure Bay Corp., which operates a large casino in Biloxi, Miss.
A good portion of the work done on the casino over the last several weeks is being done for the second time. Hurricane Lenny virtually destroyed the second floor of the casino in November and subsequently blew away a Dec. 15 opening.
The remodeled resort reopened on Nov. 3, a few weeks before Lenny struck the island. The resort, on Grapetree Bay on St. Croix’s southeast shore, had stood derelict since 1989's Hurricane Hugo.
The totally refurbished resort will be managed by a Divi Resorts affiliate. It features 126 oceanfront rooms in the main hotel and 20 one-bedroom suites in four hillside villas.
The two-story casino will have about 300 slot machines, 10 blackjack tables, two roulette tables and one craps table, a buffet, snack bar and gift shop. It will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 a.m seven days a week.