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CASINO TRAINING SCHOOL MISSES OPENING DATE

Although the territory’s first casino is set to deal this December, the scheduled opening this week of the government-run Casino Training School didn’t happen.
Soon after July 16, when the V.I. Casino Control Commission renewed the training school's license for two years, Acting Tourism Commissioner Monique Sibilly Hodge announced that the school would open on Aug. 2 in the new Frederiksted Mall.
But on Tuesday, Hodge said the opening had been delayed because of "construction obstacles." However, she didn’t say when the school will begin training residents for work in the industry.
"We regrettably announce that the facility to house the Casino Training School is not yet ready to welcome students," Hodge said in a release. "We will be announcing updated information on the opening as well as courses being offered as it becomes available…"
Treasure Bay Corp., which owns a casino in Biloxi, Miss., is scheduled to open a casino in the Divi Carina Bay Resort on St. Croix’s southeast shore in December.
The V.I. Casino and Resort Control Act mandates that 80 percent of all casino workers must be residents of the Virgin Islands.
The school’s license expired at the beginning of July, but with Treasure Bay’s opening imminent and no local residents trained to work in the industry, the CCC had to act quickly. Before Casino Commissioner Dennis Brow’s term expired on July 16 and the commission was left without a quorum, the CCC renewed the school’s license for another two years.
With Brow’s departure, however, the commission is left with only two members and is unable to grant licenses to casino applicants or companies wishing to do business with casinos, or to approve prospective teachers for the gaming school.
According to Shawna Richards, executive director of the CCC, both instructors and resident directors of the gaming school must be licensed by the CCC. And even before that, the commission must conduct a background check on all license applicants.
As of Wednesday evening, it was unclear whether or not the training school’s staff was licensed. Richards directed questions to Assistant Tourism Commissioner Pamela Richards, who couldn’t be reached. Hodge didn’t return calls.
On July 19, Gov. Charles Turnbull nominated Lloyd McAlpin to the CCC. But before becoming a commissioner, the V.I. attorney general must conduct a background check on the nominee and then he must be approved by the Senate. No timeline has been given for that process.
At the Casino Commission’s July 16 meeting, Brow said that as of July 7, 82 residents had completed employment registration forms to work in Treasure Bay’s casino. The casino act mandates that different positions on the casino floor require varying amounts of training. For example, for a student to deal a first game of blackjack, 160 hours of training is needed. For baccarat and roulette it is 200 hours and for craps it is 240.

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