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Charlotte Amalie
Friday, May 24, 2024


Jan. 9, 2002 – The Virgin Islands government entered into a contract Wednesday with a private gaming company to add several new lottery games in the territory, with prizes that could reach million-dollar jackpots.
At a signing ceremony at Government House on St. Croix, Gov. Charles W. Turnbull said Caribbean Lottery Inc. as "master agent" would work with the administrators of the V.I. Lottery in adding Caribbean Lotto and several instant winner games such as Caribbean Keno, Pick 3 and Hot 5 to the territory's offerings.
Along with Caribbean Lottery expanding its operations into the territory, Turnbull said, its parent company, Leeward Islands Lottery Holding Company Inc., will move its headquarters to St. Croix. He said the move will provide "up to 40 jobs" locally.
Turnbull said the addition of the new games is an attempt to draw in players who wouldn't otherwise play the V.I. Lottery, such as visitors to the territory and people who play lottery games that are illegal in the Virgin Islands, such as the popular Puerto Rican lottery. With more people playing the expanded lottery, he said, he expects the system to bring in "up to $1 million" in additional revenue in the first year, and more in subsequent years.
According to the governor, with the contract the territory "moves forward into a new era of modern technology and online games."
He referred to online operations as a future possibility. Government House officials were unable to answer questions Wednesday about whether the lottery contract had been put out to competitive bid or to provide any other details about the contract, such as the percentage of proceeds that will go to government coffers.
The V.I. Lottery has lost more than $200,000 in each of several recent fiscal years, according to Senate testimony in September by Austin Andrews, its director. The failure to make ends meet had forced the lottery to fall behind in its obligation to make bi-weekly payments of 5 percent of its gross receipts into the government's General Fund, he said at the time.
As of the end of Fiscal Year 1999, according to a federal audit, the lottery owed the government about $3.3 million. Andrews said it was expected to finish Fiscal Year 2001, at the end of last September, another $200,000 in the red..
Turnbull said at his press conference that government officials also are involved in discussions with businesses that run such games as Powerball and other multi-state lotteries on the mainland that often produce mega-jackpots. The discussions are at an early stage, he said, but he hopes the Virgin Islands will be able to join some of the major stateside games.
Caribbean Lottery Inc. runs lottery games in Anguilla, St. Kitts and Nevis, Antigua and Barbados. Becoming a part of this combined operation will allow Virgin Islands lottery ticket buyers to have a chance at much larger prizes than lotteries with only V.I. players.
The company's board of directors includes such well-known business leaders as attorney Johnnie Cochran and Robert Johnson, the founder of Black Entertainment Television, who attended the signing ceremony Wednesday on St. Croix.
By contracting with Caribbean Lottery, the territory is not replacing the traditional V.I. Lottery, but adding other options to it, Turnbull said. Local lottery dealers will be able to sell local lottery tickets as well as the new gaming options, he added.
"This is a plus for our local lottery dealers," the governor said.

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