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CASINO APPLICANT’S LAWYER BLASTS PROCESS

June 26, 2001 — At a public hearing before the Casino Control Commission on Monday, the attorney for Golden Gaming LLC, the latest firm trying to obtain a casino application on St. Croix, called the V.I. background investigation of his client the most negative he has seen in his nearly 20 years of representing gambling-related companies.
"I have never seen anything like it. From the very beginning it was negative and mean spirited," Lloyd Levinson said of the background probe of his client, Paul Golden. "There was no attempt to present the positives and negatives; just negatives."
Except for opening statements by Levinson and the Division of Gaming Enforcement, the commission's "public" hearing was held in executive session, because it dealt with confidential information regarding Golden’s finances. Commission chair Eileen Petersen said that's not the way she would have preferred it.
"Left to me, everything would hang out. But that's not what the law allows," she said.
The hearing was expected to continue Tuesday and possibly go into Wednesday.
The objective of the hearing, Petersen said, is to ascertain Golden’s character.
"We are only dealing with one issue, and that is whether Paul Golden has the honesty, ability and good character to allow us to proceed with the next step," she said.
In that light, no information was provided regarding Golden’s proposed plans for a hotel-casino. Golden declined to comment, but speculation is that he is looking to develop a Tier II hotel-casino with a golf course on the east end of St. Croix. A Tier II resort must have 300 to 1,400 rooms and a 10,000-square-foot casino.
Other than bits and pieces alluded to by Levinson in his opening statement, Golden's background and plans for St. Croix remain mostly unknown. The attorney said his client recently sold a restaurant in New Jersey for a "considerable amount of money." And Golden has a $2.4 million loan guarantee from Amboy National Bank in New Jersey to purchase property on St. Croix for the proposed casino/resort.
Levinson, meanwhile, tore into the consulting company hired by Gaming Enforcement to carry out the background check of his client. He said "very, very serious accusations" were made in the report that were not accurate.
Levinson acknowledged, however, that his client had invested money in the past into businesses that "ran into trouble."
"There have been some bumps in the road in his life," Levinson said, but "if there was anything negative that could be brought up against Mr. Golden … you would have seen it in these reports."
Oliver David, director of the Division of Gaming Enforcement, said the background check was not negative, just thorough.
"In the end, the commission is going to have information from all sides … to see if Mr. Golden meets the criteria," David said. "Our job is to give the Casino Control Commission all the information — the good, bad and the ugly."
Before the commission went into executive session, Petersen called for public comment from the audience. Anton Kuipers, manager of the only casino on St. Croix, at the Divi Carina Bay Resort, said Golden’s attempt to enter the market is welcome.
Another casino and another 400 hotel rooms will help attract more tourists, he said, and, in turn, the interest of the airlines. While the Divi has enjoyed its run as the island's sole casino, Kuipers said, its owners recognize that for the island to reach its "full potential," a second casino is needed.
"With two casinos, we’ll have more leverage with our tourism partners," he said.
The Divi Carina Bay Resort and Casino opened in March 2000. A second casino application, by a Colorado-based company, was rejected by the commission after the company said it would need to develop the mandated number of hotel rooms gradually over time.
A third application came from St. Croix businessman and attorney Mario de Chabert. His project, an eight-story, 193-room casino/hotel to be built on property his family owns near the Sunny Isle Shopping Center, is in limbo because de Chabert has health problems.
Along with the intensive business management background check, other steps that must be taken before an application is approved include:
— Verification of the project's financial viability.
— A feasibility study to determine if the island can support a second casino.
— Public hearings.
— Payment of the remainder of the license application fee.

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June 26, 2001 -- At a public hearing before the Casino Control Commission on Monday, the attorney for Golden Gaming LLC, the latest firm trying to obtain a casino application on St. Croix, called the V.I. background investigation of his client the most negative he has seen in his nearly 20 years of representing gambling-related companies.
"I have never seen anything like it. From the very beginning it was negative and mean spirited," Lloyd Levinson said of the background probe of his client, Paul Golden. "There was no attempt to present the positives and negatives; just negatives."
Except for opening statements by Levinson and the Division of Gaming Enforcement, the commission's "public" hearing was held in executive session, because it dealt with confidential information regarding Golden’s finances. Commission chair Eileen Petersen said that's not the way she would have preferred it.
"Left to me, everything would hang out. But that's not what the law allows," she said.
The hearing was expected to continue Tuesday and possibly go into Wednesday.
The objective of the hearing, Petersen said, is to ascertain Golden’s character.
"We are only dealing with one issue, and that is whether Paul Golden has the honesty, ability and good character to allow us to proceed with the next step," she said.
In that light, no information was provided regarding Golden’s proposed plans for a hotel-casino. Golden declined to comment, but speculation is that he is looking to develop a Tier II hotel-casino with a golf course on the east end of St. Croix. A Tier II resort must have 300 to 1,400 rooms and a 10,000-square-foot casino.
Other than bits and pieces alluded to by Levinson in his opening statement, Golden's background and plans for St. Croix remain mostly unknown. The attorney said his client recently sold a restaurant in New Jersey for a "considerable amount of money." And Golden has a $2.4 million loan guarantee from Amboy National Bank in New Jersey to purchase property on St. Croix for the proposed casino/resort.
Levinson, meanwhile, tore into the consulting company hired by Gaming Enforcement to carry out the background check of his client. He said "very, very serious accusations" were made in the report that were not accurate.
Levinson acknowledged, however, that his client had invested money in the past into businesses that "ran into trouble."
"There have been some bumps in the road in his life," Levinson said, but "if there was anything negative that could be brought up against Mr. Golden ... you would have seen it in these reports."
Oliver David, director of the Division of Gaming Enforcement, said the background check was not negative, just thorough.
"In the end, the commission is going to have information from all sides ... to see if Mr. Golden meets the criteria," David said. "Our job is to give the Casino Control Commission all the information -- the good, bad and the ugly."
Before the commission went into executive session, Petersen called for public comment from the audience. Anton Kuipers, manager of the only casino on St. Croix, at the Divi Carina Bay Resort, said Golden’s attempt to enter the market is welcome.
Another casino and another 400 hotel rooms will help attract more tourists, he said, and, in turn, the interest of the airlines. While the Divi has enjoyed its run as the island's sole casino, Kuipers said, its owners recognize that for the island to reach its "full potential," a second casino is needed.
"With two casinos, we’ll have more leverage with our tourism partners," he said.
The Divi Carina Bay Resort and Casino opened in March 2000. A second casino application, by a Colorado-based company, was rejected by the commission after the company said it would need to develop the mandated number of hotel rooms gradually over time.
A third application came from St. Croix businessman and attorney Mario de Chabert. His project, an eight-story, 193-room casino/hotel to be built on property his family owns near the Sunny Isle Shopping Center, is in limbo because de Chabert has health problems.
Along with the intensive business management background check, other steps that must be taken before an application is approved include:
-- Verification of the project's financial viability.
-- A feasibility study to determine if the island can support a second casino.
-- Public hearings.
-- Payment of the remainder of the license application fee.