Guam Governor Eddie Calvo did not sign controversial Bill 19, which as a result lapsed into law. The measure, which was unanimously approved by legislators, regulates certain forms of gambling to raise funds for Guam Memorial Hospital and other government agencies.
Calvo said, “Nothing will change except that the hospital will get more money. There won’t be any slot machines at the stores. There won’t be casinos popping up. And bingo, cockfighting, kiddie rides and Liberty machines will continue.”
Calvo scolded legislators for inserting “things” that “appear out of nowhere after senators vote on a certain version of a bill.” He also reprimanded Attorney General Leonardo Rapadas for stirring up controversy over gambling while many crimes remain unsolved on the island. Calvo stated the new law must be clarified so everyone can “get back to the business of running the government.”
Bill 19 originally was intended to regulate legal gaming activities, collect fees and taxes from licensed operators and raise funds for improving Guam’s sporting facilities. Noted Calvo, “Two bills sought to increase taxes on existing gaming. One bill would use the taxes for sports facilities, another to the hospital. The two bills became one, but not before some senators turned the whole debate upside down.”
Rapadas presented Bill 19 as an attempt “to legalize currently illegal electronic gambling devices,” Calvo said.
Gaming initiatives have been rejected by voters four times in Guam.