VIDEO: Guam AG Says Gaming Machines Remain Illegal, Calls on Rev and Tax to Revoke Licenses Re-Issued Last Week

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Guam – The Guam Attorney General wants the 200 gaming machine licenses issued by Rev and Tax last week to be revoked saying their position has not changed, the devices are gambling machines and therefore illegal under Guam law.

However Guam Music’s Attorney Randy Cunliffe disagrees, saying when all sides agreed last week to a stipulated order dismissing the lawsuits over the gaming devices, the regulations governing such devices allowed for the licenses to be re-issued.

Cunliffe said that even Governor Calvo gave his approval at a meeting last week, telling his client, Guam Music Inc.,  “we need the money.”

But neither the Governor’s Office, nor Rev and Tax, told the Guam Attorney General’s office.

  

5 years ago, there were about 1,200 gaming devices licensed to operate at various gaming parlors on Guam.

But, Deputy Attorney General Phil Tydingco explained, “In 2008, we informed Revenue and Tax that licensing of these gambling devices is illegal, because they’re gambling devices, and they agreed.” 

The licenses were not re-newed. Gaming machine owners sued.

Then Lt. Governor Mike Cruz, who at the time was serving in the capacity of Acting Governor, ordered Rev and Tax to issue the renewals. Rev and Tax complied.

That prompted the AG to file its own lawsuit seeking an order forcing Rev and Tax to revoke the license renewals they had just issued. The AG prevailed. The licenses were revoked.

“There were two or three lawsuits at that time,” says Tydingco, but “eventually, Revenue and Tax agreed to comply, and asked us to represent them in these lawsuits. And the lawsuits were basically trying to force the Department of  Revenue and Taxation to license.”

Guam Music Inc. filed 2 lawsuits, one seeking an order barring Rev and Tax from revoking their licenses, another seeking an order requiring Rev and Tax to issue the licenses.

Over the past 5 years, the cases have dragged on in court, unresolved,  until last week when all sides agreed to dismiss the lawsuits.

When that happened, Guam Music Inc went to Rev and Tax and asked for their licenses back.

Rev and Tax Director John Camacho says his staff inspected 200 machines last week and re-issued licenses for them to Guam Music Inc.

Since the lawsuits were dismissed, explained Camacho, “there’s a regulation that basically says if these amusement devices were registered back in 2001  …  if they’re in accordance to that regulation, we can go ahead and register them.”

“I didn’t know what happened last week,” said Deputy Attorney General Pat Mason. “All I knew today was I was informed Rev and Tax had issued licenses for these devices.”

PNC: “They should not have?

Mason: “Absolutely should not have.”

Mason has been handling the litigation of the lawsuits. He said even though the AG agreed with Guam Music Inc [GMI] to drop the lawsuits, that doesn’t mean the AG’s position changed.

Mason: “We’ve got a party [GMI] suing Rev and Tax, essentially, to get them to issue licenses. Now licenses haven’t been issued for years.”

Mason: “And so they say, OK, ‘We were suing you,’  … in essence this is what it was … ‘We were suing you to force you to issue these licenses, but now were willing to withdraw the lawsuit. And we said, OK.”

PNC: “You never changed your position?”

“No,” said Mason, their position remains the same. The gaming devices are gambling machines and illegal under Guam law.

“So basically,” explained Guam Attorney General Lenny Rapadas, what happened last week was, “when everything was dismissed, we’re back to where everything was before … which meant that there are no permits issued, no gambling devices legally out there.”

However in a telephone interview with PNC,  Guam Music’s Attorney, Randy Cunliffe said GMI has no intention of giving up the 200 licenses Rev and Tax issued to them last week.

He too referred to the regulation cited by Rev and Tax Director Camacho which justifies the re-issuance of the licenses.

Cunliffe said that he even met with the Governor last week and Governor Calvo, on advice of the Governor’s legal consul, gave GMI and Rev and Tax the nod of approval to go head, issue the license renewals, telling Cunliffe, “we need the money.”

READ the release from the Guam Attorney General below:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

In 2008, approximately 1,200 gaming devices were being licensed and in violation of Guam’s amusement devices licensing laws.

The Office of the Attorney General brought action in the Superior Court of Guam (SP0141-08) in 2008 against the Department of Revenue and Taxation (DRT) to revoke the licenses. After a hearing, the Court ordered DRT to revoke the licenses for the gambling devices. DRT did as ordered by the Court. Guam Music, Inc. (GMI) intervened in the case and filed a new lawsuit (SP0219-08) against DRT in an effort to force DRT to reissue its gambling machine licenses. In both cases, GMI was attempting to get its gaming devices licensed by DRT.

Under Guam law, it is not legal to license gambling devices.

Most recently, the OAG and GMI signed and filed stipulations for the dismissal of both Superior Court cases. Dismissing the cases maintained the status quo, that is, the gambling devices remained unlicensed because it is not legal to license gambling devices.

The Guam Attorney General has consistently and firmly maintained that gambling devices cannot be licensed on Guam. The Attorney General will take whatever action is necessary to see that the law upheld and gambling devices are not licensed which may include advising DRT that their recent action of licensing theses same amusement devices that are gambling devices must be revoked and to discontinue renewing these licenses as DRT did not consult our office when they issued these licenses, but relied on others.