by Mindy Aguon
Guam - Opponents of casino gambling on Guam aren't taking any chances when it comes to Proposal "A", which seeks to legalize for profit bingo only at the former Guam Greyhound facility in Tamuning. On Tuesday the Committee to Keep Guam Good launched their opposition campaign, calling out those who are behind this latest initiative.
"Proposal 'A' is an unregulated monopoly that harms existing non-profits and contributes precious little to Guam and it legalizes bingo slot machines bringing more crime to our island," said Jackie Marati. The Committee to Keep Guam Good, to which she belongs, isn't buying the purported benefits of a for-profit bingo initiative to healthcare, public safety, and education. The organization launched its opposition campaign today, hoping island voters will once again vote down the initiative.
Marati added, "If this proposal passes, by December 8 casino gambling will be legal on Guam with no rules and no regulations."
As the law stands now, only non-profit organizations are eligible to operate bingo. The Department of Revenue & Taxation has issued 33 bingo licenses. The for-profit bingo initiative seeks to legalize bingo machines before Rev & Tax even promulgates rules and regulations. Marati says residents should be concerned that the initiative does not include a mechanism for enforcement or sanctions.
While the measure purports to give money to healthcare, education and public safety, the committee warns voters not to be duped saying bingo is being used a disguise for slot machines. "This is 20% of the net amount not the gross amount, the net amount after winnings are paid. Not only can these funds not be earmarked as stated only the Legislature can do that, this is the only fee that Guam Greyhound passed - no bingo license fees, no per machine fee," she added.
Attorney Jay Arriola says the initiative seeks to allow for-profit bingo at the former Guam Greyhound and adjacent properties that are currently owned by the now-defunct company and its president, John Baldwin, which could extend to the border of the Mercy Heights convent. "I'm simply calling out Guam Greyhound to say come out and justify your proposal, if you want us to support it'. The people of Guam - the voters of Guam - deserve at least that much. Who are you?" he stated.
While none of the proponents of the initiative have come forward to explain their proposal or answer questions, the Committee to Keep Guam Good vows to keep bingo slots and casino gambling out of the island. "Guam Greyhound just needs to be told time and again." said Arriola. "And we'll be here time again to tell them to keep Guam good."
The Archdiocese has also committed to encouraging the island's Catholic faithful to oppose the initiative. Archbishop Anthony Apuron is expected to write a letter to parishioners, asking them to read the proposal and see its negative impacts on the community. Meanwhile this Friday is the deadline for those in the community to file arguments with the Guam Election Commission in support and opposition of the initiative.