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BLOOD MONEY half triumph: Liberty machines out; horse race machines allowed

Governor's Office allows governor's cronies to continue operating

Sophia Santos Diaz, the governor's legal counsel, advised the Department of Revenue and Taxation to continue licensing electronic horse racing gambling machines.

By Jacob Nakamura

The Department of Revenue and Taxation will not permit the operation of so-called Liberty, Symbolix, and Match Play electronic poker machines. But after consultation with legal counsel, DRT director Dafne Shimizu says Guam Music Inc., one of the two licensees of electronic gaming machines on Guam, will continue to be licensed to operate the horse race machines.

Connie Jo Brennan Shinohara, one of the owners of Blood Money game rooms on Guam, is pictured in this November 2018 event for Lou Leon Guerrero's gubernatorial bid. She was Ms. Leon Guerrero's campaign manager. She and her husband, Gil, also ran Sen. Amanda Shelton's campaign.

Those are the higher-priced, higher risk gambling machines normally found in the center of game rooms. Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero assigned her legal counsel, Sophia Santos Diaz, to work on the gambling issue with DRT.

According to a businessman within the industry, the game rooms operated by Gil and Connie Jo Brennan Shinohara will continue hosting the horse race machines. Documents indicate Guam Music Inc.'s attorney, Randy Cunliffe, also operates game rooms. Ms. Shinohara was Ms. Leon Guerrero's campaign manager, before becoming seaport deputy manager. She resigned shortly after Jesse Mendiola filed criminal complaints against her and others for the operation of gambling machines in places, where children frequent.

Mr. Cunliffe is first gentleman Jeff Cook's law partner at the firm of Cunliffe & Cook.

Guam Music Inc. relicensed for business, poker machines out

"No registrations for machines licensed under the regulations of 3 G.A.R. 7114(a)(5) have been renewed," Ms. Shimizu said.

Those are the regulations struck down in a ruling by Judge Arthur Barcinas handed down on March 13, the day before the public health emergency started on Guam. Mr. Barcinas issued his written ruling March 16, the week business establishments were forced to shut down.

The issue of whether the licenses for the gambling machines would be renewed was under legal review since that time, according to Ms. Shimizu last week. This morning, Ms. Shimizu said the matter had been settled.

Police officer James Quenga inspects Liberty machines owned by Guam Music Inc. and operating at King's Restaurant in Harmon on November 6, 2019. He was responding to a criminal complaint made by Jesse Mendiola that the restaurant was operating the machines illegally in the presence of children. The restaurant removed the machines that weekend.

"DRT will not be issuing any such registrations based on the Judgment by Judge Barcinas," she said.

When pressed on whether the legal review included whether the horse race machines would be licensed, she said legal counsel recommended they should be.

"After consulting with legal counsel, horse race machine devices are able to be registered under Guam law," she said.

Ms. Diaz, the governor's legal counsel, has been counsel for the gambling issue.

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