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Saturday, December 9, 2023


Casino Control Commission chairwoman Eileen Petersen warned Friday that a lack of funding to investigate a prospective casino applicant could seriously slow the approval process down.
Speaking at a regularly scheduled meeting of the casino commission, Petersen said that the commission could soon receive its second application in the past month, possibly by the end of the year.
However, she said, a $100,000 impress fund set up for the Division of Gaming Enforcement to investigate gaming applicants is empty. It could be funded with money from Golden Gaming LLC’s casino license application, which was filed late last month, but those funds have not been released.
"I have been in constant communication with the Department of Finance and it is my hope the funds will be released no later than [Friday]," Petersen said, adding that a quick background check of the applicant is at stake. "It appears there is no reason for the delay of money."
Petersen didn’t name the investor that would be checked out by the Division of Gaming Enforcement.
Golden Gaming, meanwhile, has applied for a Tier II hotel-casino that would be built on the east end of St. Croix. Licensing fees for a Tier II hotel, which must have 300 to 1,400 rooms and a 10,000-square-foot casino, are $200,000 for the first two years. A second two-year license costs $175,000.
Intensive background checks on a casino applicant are a normal part of the approval process, which also includes a verification of the project's financial viability.
The casino commission must also undertake a feasibility study to determine if the island can support the proposed casino.
St. Croix’s first casino, the Divi Carina Bay Resort, opened in March 2000 and now employs approximately 400 people, 276 of whom were either born in the territory or have lived here for at least five years.
A second casino application, by a Colorado-based company, was rejected by the commission after the company proposed that it be allowed to add the mandated amount of rooms over time.
The third application was filed by Mario de Chabert, a St. Croix businessman and attorney. His project, an eight-story, 193-room casino-hotel on his family's property near Sunny Isle Shopping Center, could break ground by the end of the year.
Golden Gaming would be the fourth license filed with the CCC since 1996.

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