Feb. 27, 2003 – Territorial Court Judge Ive Swan rejected on Wednesday a request by Southland Gaming Corp. for a temporary restraining order to keep the V.I. government from interfering with the installation of video lottery terminals on St. Thomas and St. John.
Swan told Southland executives and company attorney Arturo Watlington Jr. that they had adequate remedies through the court system without a restraining order — including the ability to sue the government for damages.
However, the judge said, "the paramount issue in this case is one of compelling public interest, warranting and meriting an early resolution."
Swann ordered the case to trial on March 24 and warned both parties to submit evidence and testimony no later than March 14 or face "severe sanction" for failing to complete these pre-trial requirements on time.
Watlington said later Wednesday that he had filed a request to have the trial rescheduled for April 7 because of previously scheduled matters impacting on his ability to be in court on March 24.
On Feb. 18, Southland Gaming of the Virgin Islands sued the V.I. government, asking the court to uphold its 1998 contract to install VLT's on St. Thomas and St. John, to stop executive branch officials from interfering with the contract and to award the company damages.
Last Friday, the V.I. government filed a countersuit, asking the court to nullify the contract on grounds that it was never properly approved by V.I. officials.
So far, according to Watlington, the company has installed a total of 20 gambling machines — at Bluebeard's Castle, The Old Mill and the Caribbean Saloon on St. Thomas. He said 37 more machines are in storage on island. Southland was in the process of installing 100 more at Wyndham Sugar Bay Resort earlier this month when Austin Andrews, V.I. Lottery executive director, stopped approving applications from businesses wanting the terminals.
"We stopped sending applications because of the ongoing controversy," Watlington said. "The place that created the controversy was Sugar Bay. We delivered machines there but they wanted to see an approved application before they allowed the machines in."
Attorney General Iver Stridiron said he was ready to send police to confiscate the machines. But after Wednesday's hearing, he said he was content to let the case run its course.
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