Chamber hears both side of Prop 'A' argument
by Krystal Paco
Guam - Just days until the general election, proponents and opponents of Proposition "A", which seeks to legalize for-profit bingo only at the former Guam Greyhound facility, present their case to constituents. "This is not about bingo. This initiative is about legalizing bingo slot machines and electronic bingo," stated the Committee to Keep Guam Good's Jackie Marati, staying true to the grassroots coalition whose mission is to keep casino gambling off Guam.
As Marati says, the Guam Japan Friendship Village's initiative to legalize for-profit bingo is no different from past attempts to legalize casino gambling, but Guam Japan Friendship Village representative Jennifer Dockter says otherwise as "electronic" bingo refers to the electronic signs that pop up with numbers and electronic bingo cards rather than paper cards. Dockter adds that the game will be played between players and not against a server or the house, saying, "What's happened in the past is casino initiatives. We know them we know that Guam has said no to them Guam knows they've said no to them, and I think we can get tunnel vision and that's all we ever see."
Dockter says Guam already embraces non-profit bingo, which benefits non-profit groups. "The unfortunate part is that what's done now doesn't reach out and give the extra dollar from the tourists that this does," she explained.
Marati says constituents shouldn't be fooled however as the proposition is a monopoly, which will run with or without regulations and choose their own tax rates as early as December 8, if passed into law.
"Who are the silent investors?" Marati demanded to know. "We understand passive investors, but what we don't understand is secret investors."
Chamber members questioned if proponents have data to prove the initiative, which is targeted at tourists, will in fact increase visitor arrivals. "Assuming it doesn't bring in another single visitor, all it needs to do is have one visitor that does come spend an additional dollar on an activity and its already benefiting Guam," said Dockter.
Marati maintained, "At no time has bingo ever ranked in the top five of why visitors come here or why they return here."