Monday October 7,2013 : U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS AMENDS ONLINE GAMBLING REGULATIONS
Changes set up a framework for expanding and regulating internet gambling.
The U.S. Virgin Islands has used online gambling licensing legalization put on the books as far back as 2001 only sparingly, but that could be about to change following a decision by the 30th state legislature last week to approve changes to the existing Virgin Islands Internet Gaming and Internet Gambling Act.
The local Virgin Islands Daily News reports that the legislature has forwarded the amendments to the governor for signing into state law on a vote of 10 for and 4 against, with one lawmaker absent the vote.
The amendments were discussed and voted on as part of an omnibus budget balancing bill comprising diverse elements ranging from a six-month property tax rebate program to provisions that set out the framework for expanding and regulating Internet gambling in the territory.
In debates over three days, the legislature dealt with each element in turn, including amendments to the 2001 internet gambling regulations.
Senator Craig Barshinger said the changes set up a framework for expanding and regulating internet gambling in the Virgin Islands, and would repeal existing sections in the law that grant a master service provider franchise to two named entities.
It also contains measures that provide for the licensure by the Casino Control Commission of master internet gambling service providers, and allows the commission to issue two master service provider licenses, one in each island district, and enter into agreements with each provider.
Under that agreement, the master service provider would have the exclusive right to provide services and license approved applicants to conduct approved internet gambling in the territory.
The bill also requires the commission, within 30 days of enactment, to promulgate regulations for licensure and renewal of master service providers, the contents of the master service agreements, and procedures necessary to implement the law.
The US Virgin Islands legalised online gaming by a vote of the legislature in August 2001. The regulations back then allowed internet gambling companies to operate from St. Croix on licence from two master licensees, called "Master Service Providers" and as approved by the Virgin Islands Casino Control Commission.
Application and license and application fees of $10,000 and $25,000 for a two-year license respectively were included in the legalization bill, along with an annual tax for licensees of 1.5 percent of gross Internet gambling revenue.