St. Thomas business partners Nick Pourzal, Tom Colameco and partner Robert Schick are happy. Their company, USVI Host Inc. has received approval from the US Virgin Islands’ Casino Control Commission (CCC) to set up in St. Croix a hosting facility for Internet gambling in the US Virgin Islands.

The company is now licensed and eligible to provide a server and host facilities for operators that want to provide Internet gaming. While USVI Host currently has no plans of operating online gambling sites, but instead, it will provide a secure Internet server and hosting facility for other site operators.

Getting the license wasn't easy. After a six-month background investigation into the company, formerly known as VI Technological Initiative LLP, the company was asked to deposit a surety bond of $100,000 with the USVI government. The operators were also required to pay the government a non-refundable application fee of $4,000 valid for two years, besides a licensing fee of $2,000.

Online gambling is a $4 billion business that is legal in more than 60 jurisdictions.

CCC member Imelda Dizon says, 'A bill is pending in the US Congress that would exempt the USVI from any law banning Internet gambling. I voted reluctantly to approve the application. The matter should be placed on moratorium until it is definitely found to be legal in the US.'

Meanwhile, the US has complained to the World Trade Organization (WTO) about Antigua & Barbuda becoming involved in Internet gaming and conducting business in the US. It claims more than half of the wagers placed in the small Caribbean nation are from the US.

'We haven’t introduced such a Bill but we are monitoring the situation', confirms USVI Congressional Delegate Donna Christensen. Some CCC members have acknowledged that the Bill’s approval might be contrary to the wishes of the federal government.