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HomeNewsArchivesLOCAL PLAYERS AT CASINO NOT A PROBLEM – YET

LOCAL PLAYERS AT CASINO NOT A PROBLEM – YET

Even though St. Croix residents continue to be the largest group of gamblers at the Divi Carina Bay Resort and Casino, the head of the V.I. Casino Control Commission isn’t unduly alarmed.
According to officials at Treasure Bay Gaming and Resorts Inc., which leases the casino from resort owner Grapetree Shores Inc., 80 to 85 percent of the approximately 40,600 people who have played at the casino since its opening on March 14 were locals. Some $12 million has been dropped into slot machines alone in that time with winnings of $11.4 million.
But even with the numbers showing that island residents are spending money freely at the casino, Casino Control Commission chairwoman Eileen Petersen said it doesn’t necessarily mean there is a gambling problem brewing.
"It’s not time to pull the panic button," Petersen said.
Nationally, statistics show that 2 percent of the population develops problems with gambling, Petersen said. To deal with the inevitable problem gamblers on St. Croix, she said, the casino will develop an in-house program so employees can identify customers who may be playing irresponsibly.
And, a task force will be formed between the Casino Commission and the Department of Health’s Mental Health Division and the Village, a nonprofit recovery facility.
"We are working . . . to ensure that Virgin Islanders remain responsible gamblers," Petersen said.
The novelty of casino gaming on the island probably accounts for the large crowds at the casino, she said.
"In time that will taper off. At that point, I’m aware that the casino has an obligation to market nationally and internationally."
Casino officials have said they eventually want the hotel and casino clientele to be at least 50 percent off-island visitors. To achieve that, they intend to market the casino on St. Thomas and Puerto Rico, among other areas. Ideally, marketing would bring in two-thirds of the players from the region and the other third from the northeast United States.
The spinoff business from the 500-seat meeting facility on the ground level of the casino is also expected to produce more gamblers through off-island convention groups.
Petersen said the six weeks the casino has been open wasn’t enough time to declare that legalized gaming is a liability.
"Quite a few locals want to know what this industry is about," she said. "I’m not ready to declare this is a problem yet."

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Even though St. Croix residents continue to be the largest group of gamblers at the Divi Carina Bay Resort and Casino, the head of the V.I. Casino Control Commission isn’t unduly alarmed.
According to officials at Treasure Bay Gaming and Resorts Inc., which leases the casino from resort owner Grapetree Shores Inc., 80 to 85 percent of the approximately 40,600 people who have played at the casino since its opening on March 14 were locals. Some $12 million has been dropped into slot machines alone in that time with winnings of $11.4 million.
But even with the numbers showing that island residents are spending money freely at the casino, Casino Control Commission chairwoman Eileen Petersen said it doesn’t necessarily mean there is a gambling problem brewing.
"It’s not time to pull the panic button," Petersen said.
Nationally, statistics show that 2 percent of the population develops problems with gambling, Petersen said. To deal with the inevitable problem gamblers on St. Croix, she said, the casino will develop an in-house program so employees can identify customers who may be playing irresponsibly.
And, a task force will be formed between the Casino Commission and the Department of Health’s Mental Health Division and the Village, a nonprofit recovery facility.
"We are working . . . to ensure that Virgin Islanders remain responsible gamblers," Petersen said.
The novelty of casino gaming on the island probably accounts for the large crowds at the casino, she said.
"In time that will taper off. At that point, I’m aware that the casino has an obligation to market nationally and internationally."
Casino officials have said they eventually want the hotel and casino clientele to be at least 50 percent off-island visitors. To achieve that, they intend to market the casino on St. Thomas and Puerto Rico, among other areas. Ideally, marketing would bring in two-thirds of the players from the region and the other third from the northeast United States.
The spinoff business from the 500-seat meeting facility on the ground level of the casino is also expected to produce more gamblers through off-island convention groups.
Petersen said the six weeks the casino has been open wasn’t enough time to declare that legalized gaming is a liability.
"Quite a few locals want to know what this industry is about," she said. "I’m not ready to declare this is a problem yet."