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Guam gambling bill flares ongoing fight

By Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 04:56 a.m. HST, May 25, 2013

HAGATNA, Guam >> A bill to tax gambling machines in Guam to pay for hospital operations is flaring up a fight between the attorney general's office, the tax department, machine owners and lawmakers on all sides of the issue.

Pacific Daily News reported that territorial lawmakers had a lengthy discussion on the issue on Friday.

The bill is pushing to generate at least $3 million per year by taxing companies involved with providing the machines. The bill would also tax gross receipts, license fees and income taxes.

But Attorney General Leonardo Rapadas says the bill would legitimize the machines. He told lawmakers he would consider challenging the bill in court if it becomes law.

Two cases on whether the machines are legal were dropped in court last month, prompting the taxation department to license the machines. Rapadas issued a directive for the taxation department to revoke the licenses, but the machines are still in use.

Sandra Miller, a lawyer for the governor's office, told senators Friday that because there was no ruling in court after five years, Guam law states machines classified as "amusement devices" before August 2001 are legal.

Vice Speaker Benjamin Cruz says Miller should not have advised the taxation department, threatening to report an ethics violation.

Sen. Dennis Rodriguez, who introduced the bill, questioned how Rapadas can call the machines illegal without a court decision.

"We have people out there who are thinking we are opening the floodgates," he said. "We are not. We're affirming that those machines — and it's limited, they can't add any more — are the only ones that are being authorized."

Lawmakers plan to continue discussing the bill next week.

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serious wrote:
License them, make them legal and get some revenue, just like Hawaii should do!! Slam Dunk.
on May 25,2013 | 05:08AM
localguy wrote:
serious - Not so fast. With such a dysfunctional bureaucracy in the Nei, raiding funds and all, there is no way we have the ethical ability to manage gambling. Bureaucrats will spin it as a way to support education, everything, then as gambling money comes in they gradually reduce the education and other budgets to pay for pet moneywasting projects. Remember, same bureaucrats who whined about needing the tobacco settlement money for health. Then soon as the money came in they raided it for other needs, lying to us again. No, the Nei has no need for gambling and the problems it brings.
on May 25,2013 | 06:12AM
Mythman wrote:
Local guy, with all due respect, this is old school "spin it as a way to support education", going back, what 10, 20 years? This thing is way more updated and tricky today, trickier I should say, and looks like it is coming to provide some relief for us overburdened tax payers, which we need on top of the tax burdens being added on as the cost of government grows and grows and grows......the problem has been how to keep not the legislators from having some more money to spend in their home districts, but how to keep the greedy little piggies who steal everything from doing the same thing with gambling.........
on May 25,2013 | 08:02AM
bender wrote:
I agree about the shell game part. As soon as they have dedicated funding they cut it out of the budget but don't cut the taxes. Ift would be nice if taxes could be cut if new funding in the form of gaming revenue were generated but it won't happen. They'll continue to tax us as normal. I'm for gaming but how it would be managed gives me doubt.
on May 25,2013 | 10:54AM
allie wrote:
Have a regulated lottery to support early education. Many states have done it successfully.
on May 25,2013 | 11:24AM
NITRO08 wrote:
Wake up gambling has been here for years and now more so with all the gambling machines in game rooms and bars. It's time to make it legal and pay for schools, roads, and what ever else we need! All this bull about more crime we keep sending our money to Vegas enough all ready.
on May 25,2013 | 12:19PM
64hoo wrote:
it hard to make gambling legal here because the illegal gambling establishments here don't want it to happen because they will lose there business you can bet some law enforcement people and legislature are behind this not making it legal because they are probably getting payoffs. look at the lottery 42 states involved we could be the 43rd state to join. and all will pay for a lottery ticket is 2 dollars for one set of numbers thats not going to hurt anybody who spends a few dollars twice a week. hell they go to fast foods to spend money. cut down the fast foods for a day. and no one will go broke. that's why they will always trying to keep gambling illegal here. its all about money in there pockets from payoffs from illegal gambling establishments here.
on May 25,2013 | 02:08PM
Aieagrl wrote:
Government wants a slice of everyone's pie.
on May 25,2013 | 07:38AM
olos73 wrote:
Just tax, tax, tax already. Anti-gamers keep on grumbling about bad roads, run down schools, cut in social services, etc., but they don't have solutions to bring in millions of dollars that taxpayers don't have to take out of their paychecks or pockets. That's OK, that's THEIR money.
on May 25,2013 | 08:58AM
bender wrote:
You would think that either all the machines are either legal or illegal. I don't follow the logic that some are and some aren't. Sounds like Sen. Rodriquez might own one or more of the old machines.
on May 25,2013 | 10:56AM
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