Guamanian Gambling Laws
By Reno Rollins
Most forms of gambling are illegal in Guam, including casinos and slot machines. Betting on greyhound racing, however, is allowed. The possession of gambling devices is also illegal, regardless of whether or not the devices are operational. Game rooms and pachinko parlors can also be found, although they are not classified as gambling.
In November of 2004, Guam voters were asked to decide whether or not to legalize casino gambling in the island. This issue had previously been brought up in 1996, with voters defeating it by almost a three-to-one margin.
The issue was placed on the ballot after the Citizens for Economic Diversity gathered the 12,000 signatures required by law. This was originally attempted in 2002, but the group missed the deadline for inclusion.
The 2004 initiative would have restricted casinos to hotels with more than 100 rooms. Taxes from casinos would have been placed in trusts to aid improvements in Guam’s infrastructure and health care industry.
Casino legalization in Guam was opposed by the Catholic Church and assorted business leaders. The proposal was voted down by a wide margin.
In June of 2006, Governor Felix Camacho reversed a decision to allow casino gambling at the yearly Liberation Day carnival.
Guamanian Slot Machine Vote
In August of 2006, slot-machine proponent Guam Greyhound (owners of the local greyhound track) sued an anti-gambling group for defamation of character. The lawsuit alleged that those named in the suit had provided the media with a “stream of inflammatory lies.”
In September of 2006, Guam Greyhound announced that the legalization of slot machines would create more than 500 new jobs. The owner of the greyhound track, John Baldwin, claimed that the track would start with 200 slot machines if approved in the November election. The resulting gross would amount to over $20 million per year, with a proposed annual tax of 10 percent per year.
The following month, opponents of the slot machine initiative asked for it to be removed from the November ballot. They alleged that the Guam Election Commission violated various laws and rules in the process of preparing the measure for voters.
The measure failed to pass in the November elections, but Guam Greyhound continued their efforts to legalize slot machines. One month after the general elections, the track was already attempting to get the issue placed on the next ballot for something called the Better Jobs for Guam Act.
In January of 2008, the issue was once again on the ballot. For the second time in a little over a year, voters turned out to voice their opposition to the legalization of slot machines, and the initiative once again failed to pass.
Greyhound Racing in Guam
A customer must be at least 18 years of age to enter the race track. Currently, there is only one major racing track in Guam. Known as the Guam Greyhound Racetrack, it is located at Chalan San Antonio, Tamuning.
The owners of the track have made repeated attempts to place slot machines in their facility, but initiatives to legalize the machines have constantly been voted down by Guamian citizens.
Pachinko in Guam
Pachinko parlors are popular in Guam, due in large part to the number of Japanese tourists who visit the island. In Japan, pachinko is almost a national pastime.
To play, customers buy metal balls and then shoot them into the machine in an effort to win more balls. In the center of the pachinko machine is a digital readout similar to a slot machines, with the objective being to get three numbers or symbols in a row.
The Great Sea Story series are the most popular type of pachinko machines. Other popular brands include Lupin the 3rd, Endless Love and the Evangelion series.
Guam is located in the Western Pacific Ocean and is an organized unincorporated territory of the United States. The largest of the Mariana Islands, its capital is Hagatna. The economy of the island centers around tourism and U.S. military bases.
Guam is sometimes called Guahan or Guĺhan by the local Guamanians.
The island was first inhabited by the Chamorros over 6,000 years ago. In 1668, the island was settled by Spaniards led by Padre San Vitores, a missionary. During the Spanish-American War in 1898, the island was captured by the United States. During World War II, the island was occupied by Japanese forces from December 1941 until July 1944. It was eventually reclaimed by American forces.
Guam is divided into 19 municipalities (or villages). They are:
- Agana Heights
Twenty-nine percent of Guam is covered by U.S. military bases. They are:
- Commander, Naval Forces Marianas
In 2000, the population of Guam was estimated to be at 154,805. 2007 estimates place the island’s population at 173,456.
Chamorros are the largest ethnic group on the island, accounting for fifty-seven percent of the population. Filipinos make up 25.5% of the populace, while Chinese, Japanese, Korean and whites are also present.
The primary religion on the island is Roman Catholicism. The official languages of the island are English and Chamorro. The U.S. dollar is the official currency.
Ninety-percent of tourists to the island are Japanese. Tourists also visit from Taiwan, the Philippines and South Korea. The primary city for tourism is Tumon.
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