April 9, 2003 – The League of Women Voters, in an April 7 letter, asked Senate President David Jones to vote in favor of a bill that would repeal legislation making video lottery terminals on St. Thomas and St. John legal.
"This bill must be enacted into law expeditiously to reflect the will of the people," the letter said. League President Erva Denham said on Wednesday that the St. Thomas-St. John District has already voted against "casino-type" gaming and VLTs "open the door to more and more" types of gambling.
"The voice of the people has not been solicited in this particular case," Denham said.
An affirmative vote from Jones, however, is not likely, as he continues to be a staunch advocate of VLT gambling. "He has definitely been consistent and we know where he stands," Denham said.
The letter pointed out that many Crucians are concerned that VLTs will prevent casino investors from developing projects on the island. One developer has said that unless the bill passes, he will move a planned $500 million resort and casino elsewhere.
The letter also said that the Casino Control Commission and Gov. Charles Turnbull have voiced their opposition to the machines. "The League of Women Voters of the Virgin Islands agrees with them all," it said, adding that VLTs are not the "quick fix" for the woes of the government or the V.I. Lottery.
Denham said the anticipated yearly $16 million in revenue, that Jones and other senators have indicated would go toward education, could be misused. She pointed to the Public Works Department's Road Fund, which is constantly being used to pay salaries, rather than repair roads.
"There's no guarantee future legislatures aren't going to say 'Hey, we've got all this money, let's use it to pay salaries,'" she said.
The bill's sponsors, Sen. Adlah "Foncie" Donastorg and Sen. Douglas Canton, along with co-sponsors, Sen. Raymond "Usie" Richards, Sen. Louis Hill and Sen. Ronald Russell, plan to introduce the measure into the first full session of the 25th Legislature.
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