Archdiocese Fights Commercial Bingo in Guam

This year residents of Guam, a US territory, will vote on whether to allow commercial bingo operations on the island. The Guam Japan Friendship Village maintains that the island will benefit from commercial bingo at the former Guam Greyhound facility in Tamuning. The issue has generated both support and opposition. Surprisingly the Catholic Church has come out against the bingo games. For decades when most Americans think of bingo they think of smoky parish halls populated by little old ladies, daubers in hand.

Archdiocese communications director Monsignor Brigido Arroyo weighed in on the issue and stated “We encourage our people to take a look at this initiative very, very carefully and realize the kind of danger that is ahead of this if this is every approved.” The bingo initiative managed to gather enough signatures to make it onto the November ballot. Arroyo hopes the island’s residents will reject the proposal just as they did with previous gambling proposals. Arroyo explained the Archdiocese’s position and said “We want to encourage people, of course we cannot tell them how to vote or what to vote, but the archdiocese, we’ll encourage people to look at this initiative, to really study it and look at it and the kind of damaging effects it will have on our community.”

Arroyo said that while the church does not consider bingo to be bad commercial organizers offer huge jackpots and prize pools that can be addicting for some players. The Monsignor stated “It’s a wedge to perhaps bring in have a bigger gambling thing. It looks like they’re just going to buildup into that.” Arroyo is also concerned that the games will be held in close proximity to St. Anthony’s Church and schools and said “It’s going to be jeopardizing the parish and the schools. We have several schools here.” He added, “When big money is at stake, then there will be a lot of people – perhaps maybe the mafia, I don’t know. But these are the possibilities that might come in and will jeopardize the peace of our community here.”

Bingo proponents have not been as vocal promoting their side of the issue. Supporters say that Bingo will pay a 205 business privilege tax that will be used for healthcare, public safety and education. The Archdiocese remains unconvinced that the benefits will outweigh the dangers.