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Tuesday, July 5, 2022
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CASINO, GOVERNMENT CASHING IN

Millions of dollars have poured through the slots and across the tables at the Divi Carina Bay Casino since it opened on March 14. However, most of the torrent of cash has come from the wallets of island residents.
From March 14 through the end of June, the territory’s first casino generated $12.7 million in gross revenues, 90 percent of it coughed up by local gamblers, according to statistics provided by Imelda Dizon, a Casino Control Commissioner member, at a meeting of the commission Thursday.
The casino paid out more than $8.8 million to winners in the same period.
Total taxable gross revenue generated by the casino between March 14 and June 30 total over $3.8 million. With an 8 percent tax, the V.I. government collected approximately $309,000.
"It shows the casino is doing very well," commissioner Lloyd McAlpin said.
Commission chair Eileen Petersen said she wouldn’t question that the casino is successful. However, she said, she suspected it could do much better.
"They’re just starting," she said. "I would say in the next three months – the next six months – I would say by then they will be doing well."
According to the Casino Control Act, the gross revenue tax is 8 percent the first two years of a casino’s operation. The rate jumps to 10 percent the third and fourth years and to 12 percent each succeeding year. Gross revenues from casino gaming are not subject to gross receipts taxes, but gross revenues generated by a casino’s hotel operation are, according to the law.
The tax money collected from casino gaming is supposed to be deposited in the Casino Revolving Fund. The money in the fund must be used exclusively for:
– Hospitals and health, 15 percent.
– Education, 18 percent.
– Youth programs, 20 percent.
– Agriculture, 10 percent.
– Tourism and casino promotion for St. Croix, 5 percent.
– Union Arbitration Fund, 8 percent.
– Internal Revenue Bureau, 1 percent.
– University of the Virgin Islands, 5 percent.
– Casino Control Commission, 10 percent
– Public safety 5 percent.
– Gambling addiction programs, approximately 2 percent.
Meanwhile, McAlpin said that as of last week, the Divi casino-hotel had a total of 431 employees, 71 percent of them residents of the territory. The Casino Act mandates that at the end of its first year of operation at least 65 percent of a casino-hotel’s workforce be local residents, defined as individuals born in the territory or living here for at least five years. By the end of the second year, 75 percent of the employees must be bona-fide Virgin Islanders. And at the end of the third year and thereafter, 90 percent must be.
Dizon said the Divi is offering free training classes for people interested in working in the casino industry. Similar courses cost at least $1,000 in Puerto Rico and the mainland, she said.
Petersen, however, questioned how many black Virgin Islanders were taking advantage of the courses. She said she was tired of hearing individuals in the community criticize the owners of the Divi Resort for hiring whites when the opportunity to apply for a job was open to all.
"I feel strongly about this, and that’s why I speak out," she said.
The purpose of legalizing gambling was to create employment for local residents in the gaming and hotel industries, Petersen said. But she added, "If they refuse to get the training, how can they get the jobs?"
"It’s not the fault of the casino," which has advertised the training it offers, Petersen said. "I’m very disappointed that more local residents didn’t avail themselves to get this training."

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Millions of dollars have poured through the slots and across the tables at the Divi Carina Bay Casino since it opened on March 14. However, most of the torrent of cash has come from the wallets of island residents.
From March 14 through the end of June, the territory’s first casino generated $12.7 million in gross revenues, 90 percent of it coughed up by local gamblers, according to statistics provided by Imelda Dizon, a Casino Control Commissioner member, at a meeting of the commission Thursday.
The casino paid out more than $8.8 million to winners in the same period.
Total taxable gross revenue generated by the casino between March 14 and June 30 total over $3.8 million. With an 8 percent tax, the V.I. government collected approximately $309,000.
"It shows the casino is doing very well," commissioner Lloyd McAlpin said.
Commission chair Eileen Petersen said she wouldn’t question that the casino is successful. However, she said, she suspected it could do much better.
"They’re just starting," she said. "I would say in the next three months – the next six months – I would say by then they will be doing well."
According to the Casino Control Act, the gross revenue tax is 8 percent the first two years of a casino’s operation. The rate jumps to 10 percent the third and fourth years and to 12 percent each succeeding year. Gross revenues from casino gaming are not subject to gross receipts taxes, but gross revenues generated by a casino’s hotel operation are, according to the law.
The tax money collected from casino gaming is supposed to be deposited in the Casino Revolving Fund. The money in the fund must be used exclusively for:
– Hospitals and health, 15 percent.
– Education, 18 percent.
– Youth programs, 20 percent.
– Agriculture, 10 percent.
– Tourism and casino promotion for St. Croix, 5 percent.
– Union Arbitration Fund, 8 percent.
– Internal Revenue Bureau, 1 percent.
– University of the Virgin Islands, 5 percent.
– Casino Control Commission, 10 percent
– Public safety 5 percent.
– Gambling addiction programs, approximately 2 percent.
Meanwhile, McAlpin said that as of last week, the Divi casino-hotel had a total of 431 employees, 71 percent of them residents of the territory. The Casino Act mandates that at the end of its first year of operation at least 65 percent of a casino-hotel’s workforce be local residents, defined as individuals born in the territory or living here for at least five years. By the end of the second year, 75 percent of the employees must be bona-fide Virgin Islanders. And at the end of the third year and thereafter, 90 percent must be.
Dizon said the Divi is offering free training classes for people interested in working in the casino industry. Similar courses cost at least $1,000 in Puerto Rico and the mainland, she said.
Petersen, however, questioned how many black Virgin Islanders were taking advantage of the courses. She said she was tired of hearing individuals in the community criticize the owners of the Divi Resort for hiring whites when the opportunity to apply for a job was open to all.
"I feel strongly about this, and that’s why I speak out," she said.
The purpose of legalizing gambling was to create employment for local residents in the gaming and hotel industries, Petersen said. But she added, "If they refuse to get the training, how can they get the jobs?"
"It’s not the fault of the casino," which has advertised the training it offers, Petersen said. "I’m very disappointed that more local residents didn’t avail themselves to get this training."