Guam – The Department of Rev and Tax is re-calling 135 gaming machine licenses that have been issued in recent months because of a mistake they admit they made in determining which machines qualify for licensing.
The reduced number of licensed machines also means a reduced amount funding for the Guam Memorial Hospital’s Trust Fund.
In recent months, Rev and Tax Director John Camacho has made various statements regarding the number of gaming machines that have been re-licensed and the number that could eventually be re-licensed, the numbers have ranged from 481 already licensed to as 1-thousand that could be licensed.
Vice Speaker B.J Cruz questioned Camacho’s numbers and sent a Freedom of Information Act [FOIA] request to Rev and Tax seeking an accurate count of just how many licenses were issued, and whether they were legally issued under Public law 60 which allows for the re-licensing of only those gaming machines that were already licensed prior to august 1st 2001.
In response, Rev & Tax conducted an inventory and discovered that mistakes had been made.
Benito: “Because the numbers kept fluctuating, we asked the licensing staff to conduct an inventory. They came up with an inventory that came up with 590 machines. However those are machines that were licensed up to 2008. And the only machines that we were looking at were machines that were licensed on or before August 1st 2001.”
PNC: “Those are the only machines that the law permitted?”
Benito: “Correct. And I believe that is where the confusion was. The inventory was 590 but actually when you go back to the date of August 1st 2001, it was only 265 that we could account for.”
PNC: “So only 265 gaming machines should be licensed now by virtue of this new public law?”
Benito: “Correct, on the Liberty machines, 265. Until such time as we find other documents, but at this time its only 265.”
590 machines licensed up to 2008.
Rev and Tax inspectors in recent months had inspected and re-issued licenses to 400 of them. But they made a mistake because only 265 machines had been registered as of August 1st 2001.
135 machines were licensed in error.
PNC: “So what are you doing to correct that?”
Benito: “What we did was we contacted the owners of the Liberty machines and we told them what happened, the error of how we issued those licenses and we asked them if they could identify and remove those 135 machines that we have to invalidate. And I am pretty grateful that they are co-operating with us because we’re trying to correct the problem.”
PNC: “Is there a deadline?”
Benito: “Yes. We gave them 30 days to identify and remove the machines from the establishments.”
Senator Cruz: “These 135 should be taken off the floor and put nto a wharehouse somehwre or duimped into the Pacific Ocean for all I care.”
Of course, the whole purpose of re-licensing the gaming machines under Public Law 60 was to raise money for the Guam Memorial Hospital Trust Fund. And fewer machines means less money. Fewer machines means less money.
PNC: “Hows that going to effect the revenues for Guam Memorial Hospital?”
Benito: “Unfortunately it will negatively impact the revenues.”