New Debate about Allowing Casinos in United States Virgin Islands

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The United States Senate Committee on Economic Development, Technology, and Agriculture is currently in discussion in regards to two bills that will enable casino gambling on all three islands in the United States Virgin Islands. One bill would allow for casinos to be built in the territories of St. John and St. Thomas, while another one would allow a free standing casino to be built in Christiansted on St. CroixThe one bill would amend the current Casino and Resort Control Act to allow casino gaming on the islands of St. John and St. Thomas. Senator Carlton Dowe, the sponsor of the bill said that it is now time for the United States to explore new sources of potential revenue.

The bill to build a casino in Christiansted comes from a private/public sector proposal by the Christiansted Renewal Group. this proposal calls for the building of a casino, along with an adjacent parking garage, center for culture, fine dining restaurants, and improvements in public infrastructure, such as security cameras and new lighting to be placed along the current boardwalk. The project is not looking for government funding as the developers are currently planning to invest approximately $20 million into this project. This project will increase tax revenues as well as call for infrastructure improvements and increase job opportunities. The developers will benefit by receiving financing that is government-backed for the project.

Many local businesses are in support of this new project. One boardwalk restaurant owner stated that the town of Christiansted is currently “dying” and that many businesses are feeling the pressure of a lack of tourism. It is possible that a new, thriving casino is just what is needed to bring the vibrant area back to life and entice more visitors to come to the island.