The rules and regulations that would govern the games of chance and their operation during Guam’s Liberation Day Festival, which starts June 5, are yet to be issued. Legislators are now under pressure to issue official Request for Proposals from vendors, although the new Bill 101-35 has not yet been approved into law.
The new piece of legislation called 101‐35 (LS), sponsored by Sen. Jose “Pedo” Terlaje, was formally introduced on Monday and a hearing is scheduled for Monday, April 29. Titled “An Act to Adopt Rules and Regulations for Games of Chance Pursuant to Public law 35-4”, the Bill would allow the Mayor’s Council of Guam to issue a Request for Proposals (RFP) for gaming during community events such as the upcoming 75th Liberation Day Festival. Without an RFP, vendors who are planning to offer certain games of chance like poker or baccarat would not be able to bid.
The current delay in the bidding process for gaming operators may put the Council’s plans for reinstalling limited gambling during Liberation Day Festival at risk. Until 2017, when a casino gambling ban outlawed all games of chance in the U.S. island territory, the proceeds of gaming operations were used to fund the festivities marking Guam’s liberation from Japanese occupation. After Public Law 35-4 overturned the ban and Sen. James Moylan’s Bill No. 29-35 was turned into law earlier this month, games of chance were just a step away from returning to community events.
Bill No. 29-35 permits the Mayors’ Council of Guam to draft rules and regulations for the different games of chance but they need to be reviewed and approved by the Guam Legislature. The draft rules were submitted by the governor’s office for review last week and until they are approved, we cannot issue the official RFPs for gaming, council Executive Director Angel Sablan admitted on Wednesday.
The bid packets for food vendors, kids’ games, and games of skill are already published, he added, warning that vendors who want to offer games of chance may not have the time to prepare. The 75th Liberation Day Festival starts June 5 and will continue for 60 days through August 3.
Casino-Style Games to Be Held within Specialized Facilities
Under the revised rules, the games of chance that are allowed during special community events such as the annual Liberation Day carnival would have to be offered in facilities categorized as House of Cards. The minimum bid for such a facility is $250,000 and it must be constructed by the vendor. Moreover, only two House of Cards establishments will be granted a permit to organize games of chance.
In addition, vendors are required to design their own casino chips that will be used for gambling in the House of Cards, while store-bought chips are not permitted. This measure was necessary to prevent fraud and the use of counterfeit casino chips, Angel Sablan explained.
Only a limited number of games will be offered at these special facilities and they include poker (Texas Hold’em and possibly other formats), blackjack, baccarat, pusoy, and monte. These are casino-style games that would be fully regulated by the new law, while outside the two licensed facilities, three additional types of games of chance will be allowed. These are the color game, beto-beto, and big and small.