Mayors: lift gaming ban or we will cancel Liberation Carnival

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Guam – The Mayors’ Council met today to discuss, among other things, Liberation Day festivities.  The group is mulling the closure of the carnival this year.

It could be the end of an era.

The Liberation Carnival has become a staple event around Liberation Day but after a dismal attendance last year, the mayors say it may all be over before it begins.

“It was just so sad last year, it was dead. It was never so bad, it was devastating for the festivities,” said Agana Heights Mayor Paul McDonald.

He blames that dismal turnout resulting from Public Law 34-15, which made it illegal for gambling devices and activities at the carnival. That means “Beto Beto” and the color game, or “pay red pay red” are no longer allowed.

The Mayors have written a letter to Governor Eddie Calvo to ask for his assistance with communicating the concern to senators. He says they’re even willing to compromise — they’re not asking for a casino, but they are asking if they can have the games that have become synonymous with the carnival to be present this year.  This will hopefully be in the form of an amendment to the current law.

But what happens if the legislature says no?

“We don’t want to be responsible to continue to have or even entertain to having the carnival because we know it’s failed last year for the first time ever and we don’t want to continue to even organize it because we know its going to fail again,” noted McDonald.

Before that decision is made Dededo Mayor Melissa Savares says the next step is for the Mayors is to adopt a resolution on the subject, and send it down to the Legislature.  She also acknowledges that this isn’t the only means of revenue for Liberation Day festivities.

“You know, the concessions are actually what allows us to pay for a lot of the things that happen during the festivities, the celebrations. The money that comes in from the parade, it doesn’t even pay for what’s spent for the parade. It’s maybe only a dent in what we pay for the stage and the toilets,” said Savares.

The mayors stressed that although the carnival’s future is shaky, the parade and Queen’s Court are definitely still happening.

The next Mayors Council meeting is scheduled for April 4. If senators don’t allow them to feature games of chance by then, they’ll pull the plug on the carnival.