- Associated Press - Sunday, December 14, 2014

HAGATNA, Guam (AP) - Village mayors have ceased fiesta-related gambling at the Tiyan Carnival Grounds after concerns were raised last month about its legality, said governor’s office spokesman Julius Santos.

Santos said no mayors have asked to use the site for fiesta-related gambling next year.

Linala Sin Casino, a group that opposes casino gambling on Guam, raised concerns about gambling continuing in Tiyan after the Liberation Day carnival had closed in August.

Villages have been using the Tiyan site for gambling operations as part of their annual fiestas, said Sinajana Mayor Robert Hofmann, who also serves as vice president of the Mayors’ Council of Guam. He said village mayors had been using the site over the last five months with the governor’s approval.

The governor’s office last month said it was unaware mayors were continuing to use the Tiyan carnival site for casino gambling.

Santos previously told Pacific Daily News the only villages approved to use the site this year were Asan-Maina and Barrigada.

Asan-Maina Mayor Joana Margaret Blas said she’s still deciding whether to submit a request to the governor’s office to hold gambling either at the Tiyan site or within the village to raise funds for two upcoming village fiestas and a festival next month.

Asan-Maina was approved by the governor to use the Tiyan location for cockfighting concessions in January of this year, according to letters from the governor’s office. All other forms of gambling, including Texas hold ‘em, Super Six, blackjack, baccarat, and dice, were to be held in the village.

Blas said having the Tiyan site available was convenient, but she is not disappointed with the governor’s decision.

“I’m not upset because of it. I’m content,” she said. “You know, we have to follow our leader. If he says we can do it, then we’ll go in. If we can’t do it, we can sit back again and try other avenues.”

The Office of the Attorney General is investigating whether the village mayors took part in unauthorized gambling operations in Tiyan, AGs Office spokeswoman Carlina Charfauros said.

Charfauros said Wednesday she could not yet provide details about the investigation.

The Dededo Mayors Office had planned to use the Tiyan facility for two weekends this month, but was asked by the Department of Revenue and Taxation to discontinue operations while the investigation continues.

Dededo Mayor Melissa Savares said the village had used the site for one weekend only.

“The people came together and let the celebration happen,” Savares said. “We were able to do what we anticipated to do for the village fiesta anyway. Nothing stopped us from celebrating our fiesta.”

Vice Speaker Benjamin Cruz last month asked the Office of Public Accountability to conduct a financial and compliance audit of the gambling activity at the location.

Public Auditor Doris Flores Brooks confirmed her office plans to audit the gambling activity. She said Wednesday the audit could take about six months.

Cruz, D-Piti, has said he is concerned specifically about the selection and bidding process for the casino operations and whether there is proper taxation and oversight.

Cruz also has questioned the rules of play, including how much the house takes from the wagers and whether winners are issued tax forms.


Information from: Pacific Daily News: https://www.guampdn.com

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