Feb 3, 2004: According to the St. Thomas Source, U.S. Attorney David Nissman has been approached by the U.S. Justice Department's Criminal Division concerning the issue of Internet gambling in the Virgin Islands.
The 24th Legislature passed the Virgin Islands Internet Gaming and Gambling Act in 2001.
In November 2002, the Casino Control Commission adopted Internet gaming rules and regulations to make it possible for companies to host gambling Web sites from St. Croix. The commission granted a Master Service Provider license to USVI Host Inc. last September.
The U.S. Attorney has reportedly indicated that his office "will have a duty to investigate Internet gaming activity [in the territory] and to initiate prosecutive action, if warranted." In reply the chair of the Casino Control Commission, Eileen Petersen, said the Casino Control Commission does not agree with the Justice Department's position. It does agree, she said, "with the position taken by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeal that Internet casino-style gaming does not violate the Federal Wire Act when there is no sports betting involved."
Jan 10, 2004: The U.S. Department of Justice believes that the acceptance of wagers by gambling businesses located in the Virgin Islands from individuals located either outside of the Virgin Islands or within the Virgin Islands (but where the transmission is routed outside the Virgin Islands) would violate federal law. It has advised the US Virgin Islands not to host internet gambling services, however they are proceeding.
The U.S. Virgin Islands legislature approved regulations for internet gambling in late 2001.
Sept 24, 2003: According to the St Croix Source, USVI Host Inc has received approval to begin a Web hosting facility for Internet gambling in the territory. The Casino Control Commission unanimously approved the license after a six-month background investigation into the company, formerly called VI Technological Initiative, LLP.
USVI Host as "master franchiser" will now begin soliciting online gambling operators to come into the territory. USVI Host, based on St. Croix, will not actually operate any online gambling sites; it will provide a secure Internet server and Web-hosting facility for site operators. The company must post a surety bond of $100,000 with the V.I. government. The operators will have to pay the government a nonrefundable application fee of $4,000 for two years and a licensing fee of $2,000.
Although the state of Nevada has passed legislation to that of the Virgin Islands, the state has not taken steps to implement it because of the uncertainly over what Congress will do.
February 3, 2003: According to the St. John Source, Senator Shawn-Michael Malone has informed Governor Turnbull that he intends to offer a bill that would create a Virgin Islands Gaming Commission that would put all gambling operations under a single agency. The new entity would supersede the Casino Control Commission, the Virgin Islands Lottery Commission and the Racing Commission.
The Casino Control Commission oversees casino gaming, which is allowed only on St. Croix, and is the regulatory body for Internet gambling, which was legalized in the territory last year but is not yet operational. The Virgin Islands Lottery oversees traditional lottery ticket sales, operations of Caribbean Lottery Services, including the stateside Powerball game, and video lottery (VLTs) operations. The Racing Commission regulates horse racing.
November 25, 2002: The Casino Control Commission of the U.S. Virgin Islands has passed Internet gambling regulations. The commission acted after an opinion by the territory’s attorney general, who stated that online gaming is legal in the U.S. Virgin Islands as long as operators can be certain that players are of lawful age and that they are placing bets only from jurisdictions where such gaming is not illegal.
The territory legalized online gaming by a vote of the legislature in August 2001. The legislation and regulations in the U.S. Virgin Islands provide for the establishment of two Master Service Providers, which are the only entities authorized to host the physical operations of approved Internet gaming sites. The two Master Service Providers as referenced in the legislation are the St. Croix Internet Group LLC and U.S.V.I. Technologies Initiative LLP.
While there are bills expected to be re-introduced in the U.S. Congress that would outlaw Internet gaming, officials of the Virgin Islands believe that the territory can now begin to host such gaming and then be “grandfathered in” if federal law changes.
August 4, 2001 - The territory is now the second United States jurisdiction --after Nevada - to authorize online gambling. According to the St Croix Source, Gov. Charles W. Turnbull signed a bill into law Friday establishing licensed Internet gaming and placing its regulation in the hands of the Casino Control Commission.
By law, the governor has until Tuesday to act on all of the bills. If he neither signs nor vetoes a measure within the allotted time, it automatically becomes law.
The Internet gaming bill, sponsored by Sens. Vargrave Richards and Almando "Rocky" Liburd, was heavily amended to give the Casino Control Commission more regulatory muscle. It awards half of the master franchise to VI Technologies, formed by St. Thomas businessmen Nick Pourzal, Michael Bornn and Tom Colameco; and the other half to St. Croix Internet Gaming Group LLP, of which Paul Arnold is a principal. Proponents say Internet gambling will bring billions of dollars into the Virgin Islands treasury as a percentage of the money wagered. Neither Congress nor the U.S. Justice Department has taken a definitive stand on whether Internet gambling violates the federal Wire Act of 1960. The governor of Nevada signed a bill in June allowing the industry in that state, and observers say the outcome there will likely determine whether the V.I. government can clear the legal hurdles of bringing the industry to the territory.
July 18, 2001: Senators approved an internet gambling bill to legalize internet gaming. Senate President Almando "Rocky" Liburd, calling supporters of the measure "pioneers in this billion-dollar industry," introduced the Internet gaming bill. Principals of V.I. Technological Initiative LLP, a company formed to develop Internet gaming in the territory were also present, according to the St Croix Source.
The legislation now goes to the territory's governor for his approval or veto. If it becomes law, the islands will to become the first US jurisdiction to allow punters worldwide to wager via the web through sites based on its territory.
US Virgin Islands senators who voted for the bill have clearly been lured by the potential revenues - under the legislation, the territory would collect 10 percent of the companies' revenues, or about 50 million dollars, by 2002.
July 18, 2001: A proposal that would bring Internet gambling to the U.S. Virgin Islands was moved from the Rules Committee to the full Senate. The St. Croix Source said Senators had recently made a number of major changes to the measure at the behest of the solicitor general and the Casino Control Commission. Senators had made major changes to the measure over the past several months.
Questions were also raised about whether the government should award a master franchise to VI Technologies Initiative without a bidding process. The measure — sponsored by Sens. Vargrave Richards and Almando Liburd — was heavily amended, giving the commission more regulatory muscle and giving half the franchise to St. Croix Internet Gaming Group LLP.
According to the bill, some of the industry's proceeds would go toward wiring public schools to the Internet and creating a technology training school. Commission officials had told senators the bill needed language to assure proper regulation of what promises to be a billion-dollar industry. Th