Guam Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero has signed off on a law establishing a new set of rules for the gambling that will take place at this year's annual Liberation Carnival, satisfying demands by the Guam Council of Mayors and various other parties for a means to pay for events associated with the 75th anniversary of the island's liberation from Japanese occupation without dipping into tax revenue.
The events to be supported include the carnival, the Liberation Day parade and the later fireworks.
A crowd takes in fireworks at the 2014 Liberation carnival. Photo by Bruce Lloyd
The bill that the governor signed into law was introduced by Sen. James Moylan and will allow the Mayor's Council to accept bids from potential operators of such game operations as House of Cards. Other games would include "big and small," "beto-beto" and "color game." Also, gamblers can put their money on Texas Hold'em, baccarat, blackjack and monte.
Over the years, gambling have proven to be an effective money raiser, while raising moral objections from many non-gamblers. Leon Guerrero said, "We are demonstrating that together we can celebrate our island's liberation events , now and into the future, without risking precious resources that fund our government's priorities."
Lawmakers who voted against the general prohibition on full-time commercial gambling on Guam expressed strong objections, among them Sen. Telena C. Nelson, the legislature's vice speaker:
“The games of chance bill was a Trojan horse for gambling that without a doubt deceived the people of Guam. Under the guise of a penniless carnival, which had other options for funding, carnival organizers and some public officials placed their bets on gambling as a primary solution, and didn’t care to look down safer avenues. Then, loopholes were found to protect the interests of gambling bidders – not the people’s best interests,” said Vice Speaker Telena Nelson, one of five lawmakers that voted against the bill."
Also opposing the bill, now law, were Sens. Sabina Perez, Therese Terlaje, Regine Biscoe Lee and Mary Torres.