Bill 29 could bring games of chance back to the carnival

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Guam – Gambling is back on the table, at least for the carnival, and while this upset the Vice Speaker who has asked how many times the people’s voice will be ignored. PNC hit the streets to find out how some residents feel about Bill 29, which hopes to allow the Mayors Council of Guam to hold games of chance at the annual Liberation Carnival.

There’s no question the island residents are against gambling on island but what about the games of chance which up until two years ago were a large part of revenue generation for the annual liberation carnival? Espiranza Pablo use to run the Beto, Beto at the carnival

“We did that for almost five consecutive years and it was very fun. We can see a lot of the senior citizen come down during lunchtime and enjoy themselves and also retirees that are not working they can come down and enjoy during the daytime and nighttime the younger ones come. But its a very game and I hope that they do have it this year. She continued, if they do have it I think that a lot of people will come down just for the games.”

Pablo isn’t the only who if for a limited and regulated form of gambling, Mark Leon Guerrero says there has to be some good in it.

“I think its okay, I don’t know specifically what was the driving force to completely eliminate it all together but I would say it has been a Guam tradition to have at least a limited form of gaming like the Beto, Beto. I think that’s a tradition that makes a lot of people come out and especially the youth I done that when I was 11 years old back in the day. I think they should have some kind because its really a bummer when you don’t have anything. I think it brings the crowd and the money does go to generate the operations of the carnival so there has to be some good in it,”expressed Leon Guerrero.

Vice Speaker Telena Nelson aired her discontent for the Senator James Moylan’s bill 29 stating quote “Less than two years ago, my colleagues and I voted unanimously to end casino-style gambling on Guam through a widely supported measure. Public Law 34-15 lapsed into law in June 2017, closing a loophole in our law that allowed casino gambling at fairs and carnivals. This law was put forth and prioritized because of the voice of Guam’s people, who five times since 2000 have rejected gambling. How many times will the people’s voice be ignored? One of those voices is that of Mike Mafnas.

“Well for me personally the colored games and Beto, Beto games are very nostalgic so you get to see it every time you go to the carnival. How it has changed affected me individually is when we did go to the carnival it was a little empty. But honestly, I think we need to get back to focus on why we are celebrating this event in the first place,” stated Mafnas.

He shares that keeping it in line with carnival games and not gambling or a casino is something he would support. With this year being the 75th celebration of Liberation the Mayor’s are hoping to get games of chance back on the table as the bill states, “it is paramount that games of chance be added to assure that the event remains a historic success” The legislation recognizes concerns from the Mayor’s Council related to the loss of revenue generated by the gaming which helped fund village projects.

But the Vice speaker isn’t sold stating “I believe village projects and programs need more support than they have, but gambling was not a sound solution two years ago and it isn’t one now.”

The legislation makes it clear that Bill 29 would not authorize gambling but rather provide the Mayor’s council with an opportunity to justify and establish rules and regulations for review to determine whether limited games of chance can once again be authorized at events such as the Guam Island Fair, the Liberation Carnival and any other fair authorized by the governor.

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Jolene Toves
Jolene joined the PNC team in 2017, as a producer, co-anchor and investigative reporter covering law enforcement, courts and crimes. Notable coverage includes the Ehlert case, the Mark Torre Jr. trial, the Allan Agababa trial, exclusive pieces on the Life of a Drug Dealer/Addict, and Life behind bars...the story of Honofre Chargualaf and Kevin Cruz. In 2019, she was promoted to Assistant News Director and Lead Anchor. From 2015 to 2017 she served as Public Relations and Promotions Manager, for the Hotel Nikko Guam handling local radio and advertorial promotions, as well as produced and directed tv commercials for the hotel. Prior to this she worked with KUAM for three years as a reporter and segment host. She began her journalism career in 2012, working with Glimpses of Guam contributing to the Guam Business Magazine, R&R magazine, MDM magazine and the Marianas Business Journal.