By Troy Torres
Numerous senators have come forward and said they stand in support of a bill introduced this week that would ban the gambling machines inside game rooms across the island.
On Monday, Vice Speaker Telena Cruz Nelson introduced Bill No. 226 which would make Liberty machines explicitly illegal. If passed into law, Bill No. 226 will strike the entire section on poker-style machines and carnival gambling from the gaming rules and regulations. The bill also will outlaw pachinko, video horse or greyhound race machines, and other similar gambling devices.
Therese M. Terlaje today stands firm against the gaming machines littering our island and indicated she had expected new administration to revoke all licenses.
Terlaje was responding to Kandit News requests for reaction from lawmakers on whether they support Bill No. 226. We specifically asked all senators “Do you support Bill No. 226-35 (COR)? This is a yes or no question.”
“I have not yet reviewed the bill, but I do not support illegal gaming machines on Guam. I support the AG’s continued suit against DRT’s illegal licensing of the machines,” Senator Therese M. Terlaje told Kandit News. “I had expected with the change of administration that the new DRT Director would revoke the licenses in conformance with AG opinion and Guam law. Unfortunately, no license was revoked.” Terlaje said she has been closely following the litigation over the game room machines ongoing in the Supreme Court of Guam.
“I planned to attend the hearing in that case scheduled for today, but I was just notified that the Court has postponed today’s October 31 hearing to December 5 at 2 pm,” she said.
Senator Sabina Perez responded “yes” that she supports Bill No. 226. Senator Régine Biscoe Lee also supports banning the game room machines and told Kandit News, "While I am still reviewing Bill 226-35, I support the measure in concept." Senator Clynt Ridgell also stands against the game room machines. He said “I support shutting down liberty machines and similar electronic gambling devices as they are contrary to Guam's gaming laws. I do not support shutting down carnival gaming as that is not contrary to Guam's gaming laws. Bill 226-35 seeks to eliminate both. Should the bill's scope be limited to liberty machines and other similar electronic gambling devices I will support it. This is something I have discussed with Senator Nelson.”
Senator James Moylan said “While I still have some questions on Bill 226, I do support the legislative intent.” Senator Wil Castro responded to our request by stating, “I don't have a 'Yes' or 'No' answer just yet. After this session my staff and I will go through the bill thoroughly and research previous measures associated with this one. I may have a position on it by that time. If not I will take in additional information from the committee and public hearing process.” Senator Tel Taitague said, “I haven’t had an opportunity to review the bill. I've been preparing for session this week - and we're still in session today. I don't have any comments at this time.”
Senator Jose "Pedo" Terlaje is the only senator who has come forward and said he opposes shutting down the game rooms. He told Kandit News, “"I oppose any measure that would make the Liberation carnival and parade a tax payer burden," Mr. Terlaje said. "I also would oppose legislation that tells reasonable adults how to spend the money they earn. If people don’t like gambling, no law obligated them to do so."
We are still awaiting responses from the following senators:
Amanda Shelton, Joe San Augustin, Kelly Marsh Taitano, Speaker Tina Muna Barnes, Mary Torres, Louise Borja Muna