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Charlotte Amalie
Sunday, May 26, 2024


Jan. 15, 2002 – The company that was recently awarded a contract by the Turnbull administration to run new lottery games in the territory hopes to tie its efforts to multi-state lotteries on the mainland offering multimillion-dollar prizes.
Robert Washington Jr. is chief executive of Caribbean Lottery Services Inc., the new Virgin Islands company that has been contracted. He told the Senate Finance Committee at a hearing Tuesday that the company will turn over 10 percent of its gross receipts, estimated at $10 million a year, to the V.I. Lottery. But he said that the addition of multi-state games could bring in hundreds of millions of dollars more for the government.
Washington was invited to testify by the committee chair, Sen.. Alicia "Chucky" Hansen, who asked him to explain what services his company will provide under the V.I. Lottery contract. Many people, Hansen included, were surprised to learn after the fact that the administration and the company had entered into the contract. Senators have questioned whether the contract was put out for bid.
"The law says the V.I. Lottery must run the V.I. Lottery," Hansen said. "It doesn't say the [Lottery] commission … should transfer the job to a private contractor."
But Austin Andrews, V.I. Lottery executive director, said the local lottery will continue with its traditional games while CLS will run new games and, it is hoped, bring in more revenue for the General Fund, which is supposed to receive 5 percent of the lottery's annual gross.
CLS will run instant winner games such as Caribbean Keno, Pick 3 and Hot 5, Washington said. "These games will enhance our traditional lottery," Andrews said. "Caribbean Lottery Services has nothing to do with the existing games."
While Washington said his privately held company is projecting initial earnings of about $30 million a year, he said the figure could increase considerably if he can link operations to the mainland-based multi-state games. He said the name recognition of Powerball and other popular games would appeal to the "millions of tourists" visiting the territory each year.
Multi-state games would create a "branding" opportunity, he said.
"If we can get 1.8 million tourists to play a recognized game, it becomes a function of whether we can play these games," Washington said. "That would have significant and historic consequences for the Virgin Islands."
Washington is CEO of Caribbean Lottery Services, whose parent company is Leeward Islands Lottery Holding Company, a St. Kitts and Nevis company with corporate offices in Antigua. LILHC also has subsidiary companies running lottery game operations in Antigua, Anguilla, St. Kitts and Nevis, Sint Maarten, Barbados, Aruba, Curacao and Bermuda. CLS has agreed to set up its headquarters on St. Croix, with branch offices on St. Thomas and St. John, according to the contract language.
Under questioning by Hansen, Washington said Caribbean Lottery Services has applied to the Economic Development Commission for tax benefits. He said the local company will invest at least $2 million and provide about 40 local jobs.
The company's board of directors includes celebrity attorney Johnnie Cochran and Robert Johnson, the founder of Black Entertainment Television.

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