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INTERNET GAMING BILL TO GO TO FULL SENATE

July 16, 2001 – A proposal that would bring Internet gambling to the territory was moved from the Rules Committee to the full Senate Monday.
Senators had made major changes to the measure over the past several months at the behest of the solicitor general and the Casino Control Commission.
Commission officials had told senators the bill needed language to assure proper regulation of the billion-dollar industry. 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.
The measure will be considered by the full Senate this week, as hearings have been scheduled for Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
U.S. Congress and the Department of Justice have yet to rule on whether Internet gaming violates the federal Wire Act of 1960. The governor of Nevada recently signed a bill allowing the industry in his state, and the outcome there will likely determine whether the local government can clear the legal hurdles of bringing the industry to the VI.
Sen. Alicia "Chucky" Hansen abstained from the vote. Hansen said she needed assurance that children would have no access to gambling.
All the other committee members except for Adelbert M. Bryan who was not in attendance voted in favor of moving the U.S.V.I. Technology Initiative out of committee. In attendance and voting were, committee Chairman Carlton Dowe, Sens. Donald "Ducks" Cole, Almando "Rocky" Liburd , Norma Pickard-Samuel and Celestino A. White Sr.

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