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    Tuesday, May 21, 2019-4:28:10A.M.






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Guam’s Calvo: Time to consider casino, pot

HAGÅTÑA (The Guam Daily Post) — In the face of a dire financial crisis in the government of Guam, Gov. Eddie Calvo has suggested it may be time to start the conversation about legalizing casino gambling and recreational marijuana to raise cash.

“Folks, we have to look at other options, developing new industries,” the governor said Tuesday morning while he was a guest on the Ray Gibson radio program “ThePoint.”

GovGuam has projected a $67 million revenue shortfall this fiscal year alone, Calvo said.

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Casino operations at the Imperial Pacific International complex on Saipan started in July 2017.  Photo by Norman M. Taruc/The Guam Daily PostCasino operations at the Imperial Pacific International complex on Saipan started in July 2017. Photo by Norman M. Taruc/The Guam Daily Post

“We’ve got to start looking at marijuana. Maybe the medicinal side, maybe we have to do recreational or leisure.”

The governor pointed out there is less regulation over the legalization of cannabis for recreational use because it would not be subject to the restrictions imposed by a medicinal-marijuana program.

“It could be treated like alcohol and tobacco, and it could be taxed,” he said.

“I’m one that may not philosophically believe in (recreational marijuana),” he said, “but it’s about providing a stable government and a stable community.”

He added that he recently returned from a trip to Saipan, where the Chinese-owned Imperial Pacific International casino is reportedly handling gambling bets of more than $2 billion a month.

“I’m not saying I like it, because I don’t particularly care for (casino gambling),” said the governor, but “we’ve got to look at casino gambling.”

The governor made it clear that he is not suggesting that legislation be introduced on casino gambling or marijuana initiatives. But he is open to having a conversation about these and other revenue-raising ideas.

“Heck, they’re having two legislative sessions a year,” in the Northern Marianas, said Calvo, “on supplemental appropriations for cash that has come in” as a result of more money than anticipated.

“We need to stabilize the ship of state,” said the governor, and only use the business-privilege tax as a temporary measure “as we craft long-term solutions.” He’s proposing raising the tax from 4 to 6 percent.

Other revenue-raising ideas discussed on the radio program were a tax on internet sales and de-linking from the federal tax code.

“I may not agree with all this stuff,” said the governor. “We’re just talking dollars and cents. We’ve got to lay everything on the table,” he said.