AG agrees to dismiss lawsuit over Liberty machines
by Mindy Aguon
Guam - It's been almost five years since the Department of Revenue & Taxation first revoked the renewal of licenses for amusement devices - essentially pulling the plug as they were deemed to be progressive machines that paid out cash. The case has been lingering in the legal system for years, but dismissals of two lawsuits have brought the machines back to life.
They're back - Liberty, Symbolix, Pharaoh, Match Play and Uncle Sam will be making their grand debuts back into gamerooms and various business establishments in the coming days. More than 1,200 machines that were once licensed by the Rev & Tax taxation have been sitting in warehouses for the last five years. But two orders from the Superior Court of Guam have owners of the machines wiping off the dust and plugging the machines back in.
The Superior Court issued two orders - one granting dismissal of the pending lawsuit with Guam Music and the other one for the dismissal of the Attorney General's Office's lawsuit against Rev & Tax. "What this means basically is it clears the way for these Liberty machines to be licensed," explained Rev & Tax director John Camacho. He continued to say that owners of Guam Music and eight other companies that previously held licenses for these machines are coming back to the agency, seeking licenses for the machines.
"The owners are coming in and basically wanting to register these amusement devices. So we're inspecting them once they come in and once we verify the numbers we issue those licenses," he added.
Camacho says only those machines that were registered with Rev & Tax back in august 2001 can be licensed. KUAM News asked Camacho if is Rev & Tax's opinion based on the stipulation and dismissal orders that were issued by the Superior Court that these machines are, in fact, legal and not gambling machines, to which he replied, "Well, I didn't basically say that."
"Back that was the first thing that happened there was a lawsuit against Guam Music because these machines were presumably gambling machines so what transpired last week when the Superior Court dropped the case, then my instructions from our legal counsel says that basically this clears the way for us to proceed," he added.
Licenses obtained this month will be prorated for one quarter up until June when owners will have to come back to renew the licenses and pay the full $500 fee per machine for the one-year licensure. Camacho stresses that companies and individuals cannot go and bring more of these Liberty- and Uncle Sam-type machines into Guam. "There's a law that only machines that were registered back in August 2001, those are the machines that can be registered and renewed," he said.
And while he won't speak to the legality of the machines that the department refers to as amusement devices, Camacho admits that licensing the machines will bring in millions of dollars in taxes and revenues to the island's economy. "I would assume it would employ more personnel, it would pay on the taxes it makes, on the revenue it makes and it would create withholding taxes because more people and I guess it's going to generate," he stated. "If there's questionable about whether or not these machines are gambling, then it might be brought up again."
The Attorney General's Office meanwhile did not get back to us with a comment on why they moved to dismiss the case it originally filed five years ago. You may recall the licenses were recalled by Rev & Tax in 2008 but then were given back by then-lieutenant governor Mike Cruz. It was the AG's Office that eventually stepped in and determined the machines to be illegal and had the licenses revoked yet again.