V.I. Casino Control Commission Chairman and CEO Marvin L. Pickering and Vice Chairman Usie R. Richards issued a statement Wednesday in response to comments by Sen. Kurt Vialet in a story Dec. 10 about Gov. Albert Bryan Jr.’s veto of a bill to remove a licensing stipulation that casinos construct a banquet facility able to accommodate a minimum of 400 people.
“While the Commission recognizes the importance of conducting business through the channels established by Law, the Commission finds it necessary to address statements that are inaccurate, misleading, and have the potential to undermine the integrity of the office, its functions, and its members,” Pickering said in the statement.
Vialet’s comments to the Source, sent via text message, said that “the fines amount to $30,000 per month and a mandatory performance bond of $300,000 within 14 days for the construction of a facility,’” and are patently false and incorrect, said Pickering.
“As per the Commission’s ORDER issued on November 10, 2021, the Commission issued a penalty for VIGL’s failure to comply with an ORDER of the Commission after being granted a one-year period (July 14, 2020 to July 14, 2021) to come into compliance with the provisions of 32 VIC, Chapter 21, §435(b)(A), which is a requirement for a Casino License and Operating Certificate,” according to the commission’s statement Wednesday.
“The November 10, 2021 ORDER assessed a one-time fine of $30,000 for VIGL’s failure to comply and nowhere does the ORDER mandate a fine of ‘$30,000 per month.’ In addition, in the Commission’s Order of November 10, 2021, VIGL was granted an extension of time to May 14, 2022 to comply with the Commission’s original Order and to post, at VIGL’s suggestion, a $300,000 performance bond,” the statement says.
“It is necessary to point out that all Members of the 34th Legislature of the Virgin Islands received a copy of the November 10, 2021 Order which detailed the Commission’s reasons for the penalty, prior to the 34th Legislature’s consideration of Bill No. 34-0168. It is disingenuous for any member of the Legislature, who have read the transmitted ORDER, to mislead the public on its contents,” Pickering said in the statement.
“The Legislature, in enacting the Virgin Islands Casino Resort and Control Act (the ‘CRCA’), authorized the Commission to enforce the provisions of the CRCA, inclusive of the Commission’s orders. The Commission must point out that none of the reasoning attributed to the senators in the article was ever presented to the Commission during the one-year period provided to VIGL to come into compliance with Virgin Islands law, nor was the Commission given an opportunity to provide testimony during consideration of Bill No. 34-0168,” the statement said.
“The Commission is a regulatory agency whose primary duty is to administer, regulate, and enforce the provisions of the CRCA. Considering the comments levied at the Commission for its lawful exercise of its duties, we are compelled to respond to the unsupported comments and to defend the integrity of the process, our staff, and the Commissioners,” the statement concluded.