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CASINO APPLICANT CLEARS BIGGEST HURDLE

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June 28, 2001 — Golden Gaming LLC has cleared what the Casino Control Commission chair on Thursday called the most difficult hurdle in the casino license-application process.
After about three days of closed-door sessions, the commission granted Golden Gaming, headed by New Jersey restaurateur Paul Golden, a statement of compliance. Golden now has a year to prove the integrity of his financial backing for his proposed 400-room hotel casino; that the resort is suitable for the island; and that his team has the experience to operate such a facility.
If Golden is successful in all regards, he will be granted a casino license.
From Monday, commission members heard testimony from Golden’s lawyers and members of the V.I. Division of Gaming Enforcement, which conducted a background check of the applicant. Based on the information given, the commission then deliberated on whether Golden has the integrity, honesty and business acumen needed to run a casino.
"This was the hardest part, the hurdle he just passed," Eileen Petersen, commission chair, said.
Commission member Lloyd McAlpin said that Golden, who recently sold his New Jersey steakhouse restaurant for $1 million, fouled up the application process by "making some bad judgments and errors." However, he added, Golden was forthcoming in admitting that it was his own fault. Commission members also noted that Golden had previously been in volved in bad business deals, but they said glowing references from government officials in New Jersey, business associates and others outweighed the negatives.
Commission member Imelda Dizon noted Golden's community involvement on the mainland and that, despite a "bitter divorce," he was awarded custody of his son.
"Even though I am a firm believer in always doing right and not wrong, no one is perfect," McAlpin said, in explaining his reasoning for voting to grant the statement of compliance.
An important aspect for her, Petersen said, was that Golden "has no known associations with persons of questionable backgrounds." She said that as far as the Casino Control Act is concerned, Golden has the required attributes.
"I recognize he’s not perfect, and I recognize he has a lot to learn," she said.
Before a license is granted, she said, Golden must purchase, lease or hold an option on a piece of property to build his hotel/casino. The planned project, to have 400 rooms, a 10,000-square-foot casino and a golf course, will be designed by Las Vegas-based Paul Steelman, a noted designer of casinos throughout the world.
Steelman’s appearance to testify on behalf of Golden during the closed-session hearings evidently impressed the commission members.

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