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Thursday, February 22, 2024


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April 15, 2003 – In a close vote, 7 yeas, 7 nays, 1 absent, the controversial Video Lottery Terminal legislation failed to muster enough votes to have it repealed by the Senate.
Before voting on bill 25-0005, Senator Shawn-Michael Malone stated his position on the controversial matter before the body. "Rest assured, the only decision I make is a decision based on facts," said Senator Shawn-Michael Malone as he addressed the Senate body. "I am charged to represent the best interest of the people of the Virgin Islands. It is very clear from the language in the settlement agreement between the Government of the Virgin Islands and Southland Gaming that the contract between Southland Gaming and the Virgin Islands Lottery is legal, and thus, this fact poses a substantial financial liability to the Government and people of the Virgin Islands," Senator Malone said.
The signed contract states:
"In the event the legislation authorizing video lottery gaming is repealed, Contractor shall be entitled compensation for the difference between its investment at that time prorated over the term of the contract on an annual basis and the total investment, and the average net weekly game revenue for the remaining term of the contract. Lottery shall obtain a surety bond in the amount of $15,000,000 to ensure the faithful performance of this payment."
Senator Malone reiterated that his decision to vote against the repeal of this legislation was based solely upon the financial risk the contract presents in light of the precarious financial condition plaguing the Government of the Virgin Islands and not his support for VLT's. Senator Malone said on the floor that many issues and concerns raised by citizens against VLT's over the last several weeks must be addressed in an amendment to strengthen the existing law. "I will sponsor legislation to amend the existing law to specify who can play, where these machines can be operated, and who will enforce and regulate them," Senator Malone said. The Casino Control Commission has been suggested as the agency that should regulate VLT's.
Senator Malone also called upon the Governor to send additional nominees for the Lottery Commission to the Senate for confirmation as soon as possible. "As the Legislature works to create a new umbrella gaming agency, the Lottery Commission must be fully staffed to deal with regulating and enforcing existing games of chance in the Territory. "If the Governor is serious about not having VLT's, then I believe he would be committed to resolving the immediate shortcomings of the Virgin Islands Lottery and fully support the proposed Gaming Commission Bill.

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