by Nick Delgado
Guam - It's only a matter of time now for residents to place their bets. After close to a decade casino gambling is back at the Liberation Carnival, and the people behind it plan to cash in 24 hours a day.
The blue and white structure is up in the Chamorro Village parking lot in Hagatna. A casino approved by the Mayor's Council of Guam after Governor Eddie Calvo gave the council full authorization to take charge of the liberation festivities. It's been more than eight years since the carnival hosted casino-type gambling.
Department of Revenue & Taxation Director John Camacho says the individuals operating the casino do not have to obtain a business license, because the activity will be approved when the governor signs the proclamation declaring the liberation events. Camacho says DRT however will be keeping a close watch on the casino to ensure they are following the law. "We want to make sure who's accountable for their monetary, how do they proceed when they actually start their daily (operations), if they are 24 hours and routine checks meaning just going there and making sure they are complying," he said.
Non-profit organization Guma Mami will benefit from the casino proceeds. Organization president and Sinajana Vice-Mayor Robert Hoffman told KUAM News, "It came at a good time because we were facing all these problems that maintenance-wise breaking down with all our vehicles, homes and everything. So the board of directors was like whatever venue we can and so when we were approached we said okay sure and we were like how much will we really make from this and so it's really a shot in the dark here so we were really happy about that," he said.
Hofmann says Guma Mami was approached by two individuals - Jason Rai and Su Guoquang. KUAM News spoke with Rai over the phone, however, he couldn't release many details about the plans or the companies involved. "It's my Chinese friends, they are participating in this event," he noted. "There are many friends involved and I don't know who from which company."
Rai along with construction workers at the site referred us back to the Mayor's Council. MCOG Executive Director Angel Sablan says that the security measure must first be in place before the casino can run for a 24 hours, period.
The Council says alcohol will be allowed in the casino area, and no minors will be allowed inside. But it seems not everyone is in agreement with the casino - president and chairman of Lina'la Sin Casino Dr. Jose Cruz questions the construction of the structure, saying, "It looks as if its really a given deal, my problem with that is that they are building it without the authorization of the governor, and I think there is something ajar to that."
Cruz sent a letter to Governor Calvo earlier this year requesting he reject the permitting of casino gambling, which Cruz says he has yet to receive a formal response to. Cruz is calling on the community to speak out, saying, "We have to rise up on the community, lets not just depend on Lina'la Sin Casino; we have already taken a public position, we have educated the public and that's part of job, we are a lobby group and we have lobbied to the governor not to sign it officially and right now I'm asking for other members in the community who may agree with us."
The carnival will open on June 11 and will run through July 24.