A little more than a month before the beginning of Liberation Day Festival in Guam, the rules and requirements for offering limited casino-style gambling have not yet received official approval. A public hearing was held on Monday but it only drew in more calls for further regulation of the games of chance, which would be offered during certain holidays.
Following a two-year ban on gambling in Guam, in March senators voted in favor of Bill 29-35, which allowed the creation of rules that would govern the operation of casino-style games such as blackjack and baccarat during the Liberation Day Festival. The so-called “gambling” bill was seen as necessary for providing the funding for the festivities that start on June 5 and continue for 60 days until August 4.
The exact rules and regulations for offering games of chance for the duration of the carnival, however, are yet to be officially approved. During the public hearing, held on Monday, mayors and other departments looked at Sen. Jose “Pedo” Terlaje’s bill (Bill 101-35), which gives the control of the carnival to the island mayors. According to him and other proponents of the bill, mayors should establish the rules that would govern the games of chance offered for a limited period of time.
The majority of proposals shared during the hearing aimed at improving the bill and introducing clearer regulation of the gambling services allowed in the so-called House of Cards. Some lawmakers are concerned that there is still little interest from food and entertainment vendors but they hope that this would change as soon as operators are given clearer rules about the games of chance they can offer during the festivities.
So far, 10 bids for kiddie rides have been received, as well as 10 bids for operating food stalls at the carnival, according to Angel Sablan, executive director of the Mayors’ Council of Guam. Bidders have deposited a total of $21,000, he added. However, the bids for games of chance are expected to generate $580,000 in revenue, which would be used for covering the villages’ expenses during the two-month festival. That includes various entertainment events, fireworks, utilities, portable toilets, a parade, and many others.
Clean-up Deposits May Be Refunded
Several suggestions have been made during Monday’s public hearing on Bill 101, although no major changes are planned. The minimum bid for House of Cards vendors, for instance, remains the same at $250,000 and customers will need to play poker, pusoy, baccarat, blackjack, and monte within the enclosed areas of these facilities. There will be an age requirement for entry and only individuals aged 21 years or older will be allowed to access these gambling areas.
The bill also states that there will be a clean-up deposit of $200 but according to Sablan, this deposit should be higher for House of Cards vendors. They could make a deposit of either $500 or even $5,000 but they should also have the right to take their deposit back, Sablan suggested. He proposed an amendment that would make this clean-up deposit refundable – if vendors know they can receive their deposit back, they would try their best to keep the areas as clean as possible.
The games of chance that would be offered outside the two licensed Houses of Cards would be offered to individuals aged 18 or older. In addition, the bill also defines the working hours for all games of chance – they will be available from Monday to Thursday from 4 p.m. to 12 a.m. and on Friday from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. On Saturdays – from 12 p.m. to 2 a.m., and on Sundays – games of chance will operate from 12 p.m. to 12 a.m.