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BREAKING NEWS: Barcinas denies gamerooms opportunity to operate Liberty machines pending appeal

By Eric Rosario

Gambling lords will not be allowed to operate Liberty, MatchPlay, and Uncle Sam gambling machines while they wait for the Guam Supreme Court to decide whether to allow that to happen.

In a decision by Superior Court Judge Arthur Barcinas late Thursday, the Court denied Guam Music Inc. and Atlas Amusement's motion to stay the judge's March 13, 2020 decision and order declaring the operation of those machines illegal. The gambling operators appealed his decision to the Supreme Court on June 8, 2020, and filed their motion with the Court to allow them to operate the machines until their appeal is decided.

Department of Revenue and Taxation director Dafne Shimizu, following the guidance of Attorney General Leevin Camacho, decided to revoke the permits for the three types of machines. On the advice of Governor's Legal Counsel Sophia Diaz, Ms. Shimizu allowed the continued operation of horse race gambling machines based on a loophole in the law.

The gambling lords argued in their motion for stay that their companies would suffer irreparable injury if not allowed to operate, citing the public health pandemic and loans of federal funds they applied for and received.

Judge Barcinas, in his written judgment, discussed the four factors determining whether to stay enforcement of a judgment pending the outcome of an appeal:

On whether there is a strong likelihood of succeeding on the appeal, he said: "[T]he defendants have not met their burden of showing a strong likelihood of success on the merits."

On whether the defendants will suffer irreparable injury without the stay of enforcement, he said: [D]ue to the speculative nature of the Defendants' assertions, the Defendants fail to show irreparable injury absent a stay of the instant Judgment."

On the third and fourth factors: whether staying the judgment will substantially harm the plaintiffs (the Attorney General) and the public interest, he said: "[T]hough arguably an economic interest, gambling has long been considered potentially unfavorable to the public's interest."

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