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Freshman could hold upper-hand over organizers cashing-in on casino

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The ball is rolling and all bets are in, as construction is now underway for the new Liberation Carnival Casino. However, this development isn't sitting well with one lawmaker who has a bill to wipe out the casino operations all together.

The walls and golden doors went up today. Workers on the ground at the Paseo in Hagatna...the location of this year's Liberation carnival...are piecing together the casino. Liberation Carnival committee chair Robert Hoffman says construction has begun now that the governor has signed off on this year's carnival.

He told KUAM News, "And with construction already underway, officials here on site tell me they expect it to come completed this week. From there it will be handed over to the Department of Parks and Recreation."

And today, concern coming from Senator Telena Nelson. She's the author of Bill 50, which would completely do away with the casino operations. "I believe it's premature," she stated, "but I know there is a concern from the mayor's that the revenues that they received, a lot of it came from the casinos in the past, so ultimately it's not a law yet so they are just moving forward."

The measure was debated during a public hearing last month. Hoffman then speaking out against it, saying, "If the gaming part is ceased then please amend the law which places the responsibility to the mayors council of Guam, get it away from us."

Though it's unclear if her bill will make it to the session agenda this month, she questions the rush to build the casino, as it's the first thing going up for this year's carnival. Senator Nelson explained, "If it becomes law then the casino cannot operate. It's a very simple clear cut bill essentially it goes back to gambling being addictive and harming the families and the community and if we are not or if we don't have the wisdom to see that then we really need to consider what is our roles as elected officials to protect our community."

Hoffman says the Guam Liberation Historical Society as in previous years funded the about 50 thousand dollar construction of the gambling facility.

In response, he says quote - "Unless she can provide an alternative funding source we will work with what is currently in the laws and within the rights and powers of the Governor and Executive Branch." He adds, "If there was an alternate source to fund everything we wouldn't have to rely on gaming funding."

But, Senator Nelson is optimistic her measure will become law soon. "I am hopeful that we do something before it's too late," she said.

Meantime, The Liberation Carnival is expected to begin in early June. Hoffman says they are working with an events management coordinator to organize the rides and games.

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