By Eric Rosario
(Tumon, Guam) Goodbye gamerooms. Farewell to all the Blood Money the gambling lords have been sucking from the poor and the working class through the vortex of a drug trade that these gambling rooms pressure cooked.
Today, Judge Arthur Barcinas did what the Guam Legislature didn't have the guts to do: he read the law and determined that the gaming machines littering our neighborhoods are illegal.
"There is no Guam statute that authorizes the licensing of electronic gaming devices," Mr. Barcinas wrote in his 12-page ruling issued late Friday. "More importantly, Guam law prohibits the licensing of gambling devices in Guam."
The case began under the legal administration of former Attorney General Lenny Rapadas, who sued then-director of revenue and taxation John Camacho, when the Calvo administration decided to license gambling machines owned by gambling lords associated with Guam Music, Inc., and Atlas Amusement. All of the gaming machines in the gamerooms are owned by these two companies.
The case has been in litigation for a decade; and even when presented with evidence of illegal activity happening in these gamerooms, senators refused to intervene and declare the gamerooms illegal.
Several senators led by Sen. Amanda Shelton have been protecting the Blood Money interests, with the gambling lords spending the most money on campaign contributions into senatorial war chests second only to the Calvos themselves.
“Our laws prohibit gambling machines and we now have a court decision that eliminates any argument that these machines can lawfully be licensed under gaming regulations,” Attorney General Leevin Camacho. “DRT must follow our laws and the court’s decision and revoke any gaming licenses and not reissue or renew any gaming licenses.”
Mr. Camacho championed his office's decade-long effort to have the courts invalidate the Calvo administration's licensing of the machines since he took office last year. Assistant Attorney General Marianne Woloschuk and former Deputy Attorney General Kenneth Orcutt handled the matter on behalf of the Office of the Attorney General.
On November 6, 2019, justice advocate Jesse Mendiola filed a complaint with the Guam Police Department against gambling lords Gil and Connie Jo Brennan Shinohara, Johnnie Cool Torres, Lucy Alcorn, Guam Music, Inc. and others after he noticed children inside King's Restaurant in Dededo playing near two gambling machines inside the restaurant.
The action caused an uproar in the community and a cascading effect that saw increased enforcement of the law against these gamerooms. Several gamerooms shut down operations. all of them were forced to follow curfew laws, and business for these Blood Money vampires visibly was shaken.
The gamerooms are known to attract small-time drug dealers, who spend the proceeds of their drug sales on the machines, lose all of the money they are supposed to turn in to their bosses, then rob people or other businesses in order to make up for those losses.
The ruling by Mr. Barcinas is a watershed moment for Kandit's often-flailing outlook on justice in Guam. The Merizo jurist and father proves to this island that there are men and women in positions of power who remain incorruptible, despite the amount of money and power of the political elite.