Archive for the “V” Category

Encyclopedia: Gambling in America – Letter V

Virginia established a lottery in 1988 after many false starts over the previous fifteen years. Fifty-six percent of the voters supported the lottery proposition. Virginia participates in the multistate Big Game lotto, as well as selling its own lotto tickets, numbers games, and instant tickets. The revenues of the lottery are earmarked for educational purposes. Charitable gaming is also permitted, and there are facilities for offtrack race betting. There is no casino gambling, as the state has successfully fought off efforts of ocean cruise ships to dock at ports in the state.
Although Virginia has come to gambling authorizations only recently in the modern era, the state certainly has had a history of gambling. Within the first five years of its existence as an English colony, Virginia became the beneficiary of a lottery authorized by King James. In 1620, twenty mares were shipped from England to Virginia Colony, and horse racing with private wagering became a regular activity for the settlers. In later colonial days, lotteries were prevalent. George Washington and Thomas Jefferson participated in most forms of gambling – they played cards, raced horses, and were involved in lotteries. Jefferson conducted a lottery in 1826 in an effort to dispense of his property so that he could pay all his debts prior to his death. Unfortunately, he died before this result could be realized.

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The Virgin Islands lie off the eastern edge of Puerto Rico. The islands are controlled by the governments of the United States and Great Britain. The U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) consist of fifty small islands. The most populated of the USVI are St. Croix, St. Thomas, and St. John. Together the USVI have just over 100,000 residents. In 1989, Hurricane Hugo devastated the tourist islands. Many properties were destroyed, as was much of the islands infrastructure. A depression ensued during which many of the air flights to the islands ceased. In 1995 the two leading employers – Hess Oil and Virgin Island Alumina – cut production and downsized by 650 employees. Casino gambling, an idea that had been rejected several times before, suddenly became popular. A referendum was authorized, and the voters endorsed casinos by a narrow margin. On 3 November 1995, the Virgin Islands’ representative assembly followed the popular will by passing legislation authorizing casino licenses. The law was amended on 6 March 1997.
The legislation provides for up to six casinos in hotels on St. Croix island. The first of the six opened in 2000 at the Divi Carina Bay Resort. The resort now has only 126 rooms, twenty villas, and a convention center.  The licenses are issued by a board of commissioners appointed by the governor. Of the six licenses, one must go to a company that is obligated to build a 1,500-room hotel and have a gaming area of 20,000 square feet or more in the facility, along with convention and banquet facilities. Two licenses go to hotels with at least 300 rooms and a casino of 10,000 square feet or more, while another two go to hotels of at least 200 rooms located in two historic districts of the island. A smaller casino may be licensed in another hotel with at least 150 rooms. The Divi Carina barely qualifies. Licensing fees are related to the size of the casino. The taxation formula for the casinos is an 8% win tax for their first two years, then 10% for the next two years, and 12% thereafter. The taxation formula was derived from the laws of New Jersey. As in New Jersey, the casinos must also make investments of 1.25% of their gross revenues in development projects on the island. The casinos are also subject to the U.S. cash transaction reporting rules and the reporting rules of the Internal Revenue Service.
Many of the details of the New Jersey gaming law were incorporated into the legislation, as the lawmakers felt that the “strict” regulatory model of New Jersey would best suit the Virgin Islands’ needs for high integrity. The needs may indeed have been met in their entirety. No one can challenge the integrity of casino gaming in the Virgin Islands.

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See Lotteries.

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Vermont ranks forty-sixth in gambling revenues among the forty-seven states that have some form of legalized gambling. Only Alaska has less gambling. Vermont created a state lottery in 1978. Of the thirty-eight lottery jurisdictions in the United States (thirty-seven states plus the District of Columbia), only Montana sells fewer tickets. Although Vermont is a very small state, it has not joined the Powerball multistate lottery that was designed so that small states could generate sales through offering large jackpot prizes. Previously, the state joined with New Hampshire and Maine in the Tri-State lotto game.
Although horse-race betting is permitted at Vermont tracks, there were no such tracks as the state entered the twenty-first century. There is a short dog-racing season at the Green Mountain racetrack.
The closest the state has come to considering casino gambling has been the effort of the Abeniki Native Americans to have lands in the state declared to be reservation lands. It is assumed that if they ever get federal recognition, they will seek also to gain a compact for gambling.

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Venezuela - Gambling in AmericaSome gambling activity is quite legal in Venezuela, but other activity operates on the edge of the law. Bingo parlors, horse and dog racing, and government lotteries are authorized; however, casinos are in some sort of limbo. In recent years, many casinos have operated on Margarita Island – a tourist resort area – and other locations under authorizations from local governments. The country of 15 million avoided resolving many regulatory issues, however, as there was no national law on casinos. Finally in 1996 a national law was passed. National authorities sought to preempt all local authorization of casino gaming. Under the law, casinos were permitted in five-star hotels with 200 rooms if they were located in tourist zones. Margarita Island was one such zone. The casinos were to be given ten-year renewable licenses. They were taxed at a rate of 20% of their gross gaming wins.  Most of the casinos closed because they could not meet requirements for licensing, and only one received a license. That casino, the Grand Casino Margarita, is located in the Margarita Hilton Hotel. It is run by CIRSA, a Spanish gaming company. The government has approved eight other zones for casinos, but no licenses are pending.

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