Senators maintain stance against gaming machines - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Senators maintain stance against gaming machines

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by Ken Quintanilla

Guam - Following the drama that unfolded at the Guam Legislature over Bill 19, the Attorney General's Office has come forward today stating its opinion. And while they have yet to see the final amended version, they continue their opposition to using gaming machines- devices they believe are illegal.  

Although he witnessed firsthand the drama at the Legislature having watched both from his office and at the Public Hearing Room over the past few days, Attorney General Leonardo Rapadas says it's still tough to comment on Bill 19 entirely as he has yet to see the final version. Rapadas said, "We at the AG's Office, we did not recognize the end product from where we started, it was a totally different animal."

Speaking before the Rotary Club of Northern Guam , Rapadas says his office actually worked with Senator Chris Duenas on Bill 19 and was a supporter of the original Bill 20 before it was substituted to include a provision to fund GMH instead through gaming machines. The AG opposed that measure and its position remains today, saying, "Where we oppose it because we don't believe that those regulations are valid, and firstly because laws trumps regulations and secondly we don't think the regulations were enacted properly or legally."

Essentially, Bill 20 was included as an amendment into Bill 19. And regarding the amendment proffered by Senator Michael San Nicolas to ban all gaming, limited gaming and gambling machines once GMH's debt is paid off, Rapadas says speaking as an observer only, it does raise concern. "If that's the case, they'll be issues with certain individuals and certain groups regarding fundraising activities. That's just the short answer," he said.

And as they wait for whether Govenor Eddie Calvo will sign the bill into law, Rapadas says he remains firm on his opposition on these gaming machines. It was two weeks ago in fact when the AG filed a lawsuit against Rev & Tax and Governor Calvo over its decision to renew hundreds of amusement devices it believes are illegal.

During today's Rotary meeting, he said using revenue from these machines to even fund the hospital is illusory and illegal. "Illusory in such in that such revenue legally does not exist and illegal in that it is based on an erroneous assumption that gambling devices are legal," he said.

Rapadas adds he's not against helping fund the hospital, but would rather the Legislature do so in a legal way. Ultimately his biggest concern is that the law is followed. Rapadas stated, "And that is the bottom line for myself and the office, and our position in regards to the regulations our position is that the laws aren't being followed."

The Legislature's Clerks Office tells KUAM News that Bill 19 was transmitted to the Governor's Office at 3pm on Wednesday without the exhibit. Cruz meanwhile tells KUAM he will not call session as Senator Pangelinan's letter is moot. Cruz says he did his due diligence and even re-listened to almost four hours of tapes from session and reviewed transcriptions from when the amendment was made. He came to the conclusion that there was no exhibit that could be attached to the bill, adding Pangelnan was given the opportunity to attach an exhibit when he proffered his written amendment but failed to do so. He adds further confusion was caused when the Legislature's legal counsel did the initial engrossment and made some editorial changes to the Pangelinan amendment.

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