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DIVI CASINO TO BE ABOUT MORE THAN LUCK

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For the Virgin Islands’ first casino to really succeed, its draw will have to be more than just rolling dice and yanking one-armed bandits.
Michael Ratner, manager of the soon-to-be-opened casino at the Divi Carina Bay Resort, said gaming wasn't his lone focus. Because casino gambling already exists in other Caribbean destinations, Ratner said St. Croix’s new venture won’t unleash a flood of new gaming travelers.
While Divi Carina Bay management expects a healthy infusion of off-island guests at the resort casino, Virgin Islanders are seen as the main source of business. With that in mind, Ratner, who has been working on the St. Croix project for years, said the casino must be more than just, well, a casino.
"We see it as an entertainment facility," he said. "The backbone of our business will be the local community. We don’t want people to just focus on gaming. We want the casino to rock."
To attract people who may not be high, or even low, rollers, Ratner said he plans to have local and off-island bands playing every weekend in the casino’s Mongoose Lounge. In addition to local acts, Ratner said he will check the Puerto Rican market for talent.
"We want to bring in some good solid acts," he said. "People can come in and listen and maybe put $10 down on a table or pull a slot."
Ratner said the casino was set to open shortly after the beginning of March, about three months after last November’s Hurricane Lenny spoiled the original unveiling. The casino will have 150 employees, 28 of whom are dealers.
The remodeled Divi Carina Bay Resort, dormant since 1989's Hurricane Hugo, reopened just prior to Lenny, on Nov. 3. The resort, located on Grapetree Bay on St. Croix’s southeast shore, features 126 ocean-front hotel rooms in the main hotel and 20 one-bedroom suites in four hillside villas.
Grapetree Shores Inc., which owns the resort and casino, has hired a Divi Resorts affiliate to manage the hotel. Grapetree is leasing the casino operation to Treasure Bay V.I. Corp., a local affiliate of Treasure Bay Corp., which operates a large casino in Biloxi, Miss.
The two-story casino will have 300 slot machines, 13 gaming tables, buffet, snack bar and gift shop.

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