Casinos for St. John?

Are they serious?  The St. John Source reports that legislation relating to casinos in the Virgin Islands may allow two casinos to be built on St. John.  St. Thomas would be allowed seven.


Divi Carina Bay Resort and Casino

The Territory's casino regulating bill was originally approved in 1995, after voters has indicated they wanted gambling only on St. Croix.  Since then, while six casinos were authorized, only one has been built: the Divi Carina Bay Resort.  "What we hoped for (in terms of economic development and casino projects) is nowhere there now," said Violet Golden, a member of the casino Control Commission.  (Read the full Daily News story here.)

The idea that casinos could be built on St. John is shocking to many people.  The island's man in the VI Senate, Craig Barshinger, reportedly did not attend the meeting of the Senate committee meeting where the prospect of St. John casinos was raised.  The Inquiring Iguana has no doubt he'll get into this quickly and loudly.

A consultant for the Virgin Islands Lottery was skeptical of data presented suggesting casino gambling would be good for St. Thomas and St. John.  of course, casinos would also be competition for the Lottery and its workforce of people who sit on chairs outside stores and sell the numbers.  Furthermore, the comments of a University of the Virgin Islands economics professor countered suggestions casinos would generate more tourism.  Simon Jones-Hendrickson said 80 to 90 percent of the Divi business comes from locals.

Here's the real problem.  The VI economy has just taken a body blow with the decision by the operators of the oil refinery on St. Croix to close up shop. Hovensa, the refinery, is the Territory's largest employer, some 2,000 people.  It supplies WAPA's needs for generating electricity and water distribution.  The Governor estimates that Hovensa contributes $100 million a year to the VI government, through property taxes, employees' taxes, etc. The loss of that money to the government and the islands' economy is catastrophic.

And now a mirage of income from casinos is on the horizon.

  • The Virgin islands Daily News also reported on the Senate's casino hearing.  Read the story here.

34 thoughts on “Casinos for St. John?”

  1. As a frequent visitor from the upper 48 casinos on the island will force me to find another island. There is major debates throughout the country on the viability and sustainability of casinos. St John’s is too beautiful and pristine to have the addition of a casino. I was sad when the Divi opened on St Croix and according to the above article it has done little to entice the gamblers to their island.
    Times are difficult all over the world and casinos are not the answer. Vegas and Atlantic City are hurting more gambling options won’t provide economic prosperity. Pete

  2. Are they for real? Casinos would destroy what St. John is all about. Beauty, peace, getting away from it all…I sincerely hope that the “powers to be” get out there and fight for our wonderful island. In the meantime, if anyone knows what an individual can do to make a difference in this debate, maybe we can all pool together and let them know that casinos are NOT something we want for St. John.

  3. People need to ask themselves-“What makes St.John special” It is the pristine nature of the island, the lack of overcrowding and conjestion. The allure is the ability to get away from the stupidity of the upper 48. Building a casino will make the island just another stop for a cruise ship.

  4. We already have a casino at Wharfside which is virtually empty at all times. THis is a ridiculous proposal from the corrupt and inept VI Govt. looking for quick cash to throw into the bottomless hole they have created.

  5. Open your minds; use common sense VI government!!!
    The reason we go to St John is for the pristine beauty, laid back style & less commercialism. We don’t even like to stay on St Thomas that long except to get to the ferry to get to STJ.
    If a casino came to St John that’s it…we’re finding another island to spend our vacation dollars on. The
    “tourist-bringing-dollars” draw about St John is the difference it has NOT having a casino. (One in Wharfside always empty…hint…hint!). There are enough islands with this type of entertainment out there.
    Embrace your uniqueness St John….hold firm in your draw for those tourist dollars & you’ll come out so much better on so many levels!

  6. Gambling is no longer an attraction. Las Vegas is an example of marketing self not as a gambling mecca, but a place for entertainment,dining,and drinking parties whether it be in a pool or a club. Atlantic City has not experienced great wealth from gambling. Indian reservations and States adopt gambling what is the big attaction. Cruises also have casinos on board. Divi is a perfect example of failure of a possibly good idea-Why is it in the middle of no where tourist aren’t going to travel that far to play slots.

  7. Are you for real???!!! That is NOT what St. John is all about. We go there to get away from that trash~ They are trying to put casino’s in our area and all I think about is what comes with it. Do I need to say more. It’s not going to generate the revenue you think it will. We are not the type that goes to St. John looking to gamble…

  8. If casinos come to STJ, we will sell our place and not be back to the island. The draw of this place is the natural beauty and laid back attitude of the island. Bringing casinos to the island would be a HUGE mistake.

  9. Pete–
    If you’re a constant visitor, you certainly know the island is named “St. John,” NOT “St. John’s,” right?

  10. Divi’s customers are the locals on St. Croix and will now be feeling the pinch of the refinery closing. I agree about “St. John”, tourists are not going to come for the gambling experience. The stateside towns are installing speed cameras and stop cams. LoL. Will these be the next proposals…….. Ha

  11. What craziness! We would have to find a new island to vacation on. Take a look at the casinos here is the north east. They are all going under.

  12. Huge mistake!!!I’ve been going to St John every year since the early eighties, and just as most people state in their comments here, I come for the quiet laid back beauty of the island, to relax, and take in the natural beauty of the island. I have never even spent a single night in St Thomas because of the congestion and hustle bustle there, from the airport, straight to red Hook, and on to beautiful STJ….Add the casinos and you’ll ruin it for many visitors and locals alike! Like back in the states, pawn shops will spring up too, so all the losers can support their habit…if anyone has the power to stop this before it starts, please do all that you can to keep this island as is!!!

  13. First of all – it’s St. John not St. John’s. Secondly while I do not think that casino(s) would be a good idea they will not affect the beauty/laid back atmosphere – it has already been affected the large villa crowd that must have air conditioning in their rental home causing a severe drain on the infrastructure. If having a casino on the island forces you to go elsewhere then so be it — perhaps I will find a parking space in town if there are a few less rental cars around!

  14. So Liz, you think the villa’s that are there are as much as an eyesore as putting up two large casinos? Those villas provide people who want to visit there with a nice place to stay when on ST JOHN, better than the Westin, which also has a/c.You obviously live there, and with that attitude, do not depend on tourism to support yourself as many others on the island do…Oh and someone else already corrected the spelling for the person who referred the island as St John’s…

  15. PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE do not add any more casinos to St. John. This island is unique in its pristine beauty and the kind of crowd it attracts that deeply care about the place. Laurence Rockefeller purchased a good part of the island to serve as a national park to preserve just this type of beauty. Show respect to this idea. There are casinos at many other islands. St. John offers a different type of experience that would most definitely be lost with that type of commerce. I hope there are good persons in charge leading the fight against this disastrous idea.

  16. I am a STJ nature-loving, tree-hugging freak, BUT I think the idea of a casino at a resort like the Westin would add FUN to an otherwise bland resort. With real Vegas style action. I say bring it on!!!

  17. Casinos would rock! Love this idea. It will bring some life and dollars to the island which is plenty big to support the noise not to mention the dining, drinking and music activities. Re: St. John’s, get over it. St. John’s atmosphere is lovely. Gamblers will be the new “beachgirls” claiming they are “bringing the dollars” that support the island. Tourists are all for their demands when they bring the dollars but not so much when other people bring the dollars.

  18. The V.I. has to solve its problems. Floating a casino bill is just one approach to redefining revenues. I don’t do casinos at all, but, since I would prefer to not support the largesse of V.I. Government employ, I see it as a POTENTIALLY viable tourism option, I can’t answer pro or con. Beyond that, the flatlanders that want to preserve everything for their one week a year on “St. John’s” (Antigua?) really have little to say about it. The Government should start with severe austerity measures. They already employ too many who do little or nothing for outrageous pay.

  19. Sirenusa and Grande Bay, as well as that monstrosity in Red Hook, are the worst things that have happened in the last 10 years. Ugly, unnecessary, and loaded with corruption and manipulation.

  20. I don’t think casino development would be economically feasible. STJ doesn’t have enough tourists, let alone enough tourist who want to gamble, to fund operation of a casino.

  21. To finish my thought (I hit post by accident) – is there any plot of land large enough to support such development? The site development work that would be required for the Maho parcel, for example, would probably make the entire project too expensive to build.
    My state has seen a number of casino developments over the past several years but these casinos are driving patrons from the entire Mid-Atlantis and Northeast. I doubt there are enough tourists and locals on STJ and STT willing to gamble enough to keep a casino afloat.

  22. Does’t the Parrot Club count as a casino already? If they are going to build one on the Cruz Bay side – I would say do it at the Westin otherwise, the abandoned place next to Cocoloba plaza in cruz bay could work as sort of a “casa blanca-esque” type casino.

  23. Heather, I believe you’re right…what happens in lots of cases, is the people that wind up gambling in those places are the ones who can least afford to be there, there’s enough poverty on the island already without adding to it with a casino…

  24. Why not leave the issue up to the people that live, work and have to survive in the V.I.? While I don’t care for casinos, I’ve never seen where the construction of one increased local poverty. If you try to insert off-island opinions into the mix with the Legislators, they will go in completely the opposite direction that you desire. Balance. Think. Contribute.

  25. I guess you’re right, I don’t live there, but I’ve seen it happen in New Orleans where I live, and I’ve seen lots of people get paid on Friday, and broke on Saturday…I do think the majority of opinions on this site are coming from off-island though.

  26. I think if they put a big casino in the USVI, it ought to be on St. Croix. It would employ the Hovensa employees that are getting let go (thanks to our lovely government) and give people a reason to go there. They could turn it into what Cuba used to be before the leftists got a hold of it.

  27. Casinos would ruin St. John. I’d never go back. The attraction of this island is it’s beauty and lack of development. Turning it into another Atlantis is not a good idea unless you’re a gangster, pimp or hooker. Does anyone know why the refinery in St. Croix is shutting down? At a time when oil price and world demand is strong, it makes no sense. I don’t suppose it would have anything to do with the foolish energy “policies” of the misguided federal government? Real jobs aren’t making solar panels in China, they are in the petroleum industry.

  28. There is a casino already on st. Croix and that is why I visited the island. I think st.thomas should have them and leave st. John nice and quiet.

  29. I’ve only been to St. John once, and now it’s the only place I want to go! Such a beautiful and natural place!
    This is horrible news! I think I would be one of the people who would never come back if a casino was built on the island.
    I hope to hear that this is never going to happen, soon!

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