Different Sides of the Coin in Guam For-Profit Bingo Initiative

A vote for the Bingo Initiative is a vote for education!

The government of Guam has announced that the next general election will include a For-Profit Bingo Initiative on the ballot. The election is scheduled to take place on 6th November 2012.

Proposal A

This is an initiative to institute for-profit bingo in Guam. Proposal A includes tax specifics regarding the bingo profits: 1) Gross bingo income is defined as revenue minus prizes; 2) 20% tax on gross bingo income; 3) Guam Bingo Fund will receive the bingo taxes – a) 30% to GMH Board, 30% to Education Policy Board, 30% to GPD and GFD, 10% to Department of Revenue and Taxation (DRT). The Bingo Operations would be regulated by DRT.

To better define the beneficiaries of the proposed bingo profits, GMH stands for Guam Memorial Hospital, GPD is the Guam Police Department and GFD is the Guam Fire Department. Thus a full 20% of the gross income of for-profit bingo would be returned to the citizens of Guam in the form of support for the national hospital, police and fire departments and Education Policy Board. This clearly appears to be a win-win situation.

Players would have the pleasure of social gatherings around the excitement of bingo games; and the community would benefit directly from the profits. As a measure to ensure fairness and honesty for the players, the bingo operations would be supervised by the government. Further, the bingo hall owners would have the opportunity to reap substantial gains, providing the incentive to offer state-of-the-art technology, longevity of operation and proper maintenance of the facility.

Opposition to the Announcement

The election announcement contained a welcome mat for any and all opponents of the initiative to come forward. Those opponents could file a written argument with the Election Commission. At least one group chose to file its objections to the for-profit bingo initiative. The “Keep Guam Good” organization recently held a news conference at the Sinajana Community Center to announce its stand against Proposal A. The Good organization opposes any form of gambling in Guam. The members of that group believe that it is imperative to protect the family nature of the community. Organization founder Benit Dungoa is a professor at the University of Guam (UOG). She stressed that the views of her group do not reflect those of the UOG.

The raison d’etre of Good is to keep all forms of gambling from materializing on Guam. Four years ago, this same organization successfully opposed the establishment of a casino at the former Greyhound Park in Tamuning, the proposed site of the bingo hall. Dungoa has characterized the organization members as “anti-gamblers”. She commented that when the proposal was first announced, the group discussed what needed to be done in order to negate the bingo initiative. Just as beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, clearly the efficacy of bingo games is in the differing staunch views of interested parties in Guam. Since for-profit bingo would contribute substantially to the well-being of the community, it will be interesting to see the actual voter reaction on the 6th of November.