Guam’s plans to ban gambling as soon as it pays of Guam Memorial Hospital’s hospital debt is getting a whole lot of support across the board from the US territory’s lawmakers. But while everybody seems to be on the same page to ban gambling altogether, the mayors of the Guam districts of Santa Rita and Umatac are trying to keep at least one form of gambling from getting kicked out to the Pacific Ocean.
Santa Rita mayor Dale Alvarez is asking Guam’s government to exempt cockfighting from Bill 19, the legislation that would immediately make gambling illegal in Guan as soon as it helps the hospital pays off its $18 million in vendor debt. Cockfighting in Guam is a cultural institution, Alvarez argues, and as such, operators and bettors of the practice aren’t likely to just put the cocks back in their cages, pack up their bags, and call it a day.
You can’t take cockfighting and just throw it out sea because Guamanians are likely to be up-in-arms about it and people are just as likely to drive the practice underground than it would to honor the fine print of Bill 19 should it be passed into law.
Even if the practice is allowed, it wouldn’t be the same without the gambling aspect because, well, people won’t be too interested in watching two cocks try killing each other without some potential financial gains along the way. Alvarez also said that betting is a way for cockfighters to make a return on their investment. “It’s expensive,” Alvarez said while talking to the Pacific Daily News. “We breed our own or bring birds in from the mainland.”
Despite calls to exclude cockfighting from Bill 19, Sen. Michael San Nicolas, the man behind the amendment to eventually ban gambling across the board in Guam, reiterated his stance on the issue. “I believe in the ingenuity of our people to develop new methods of fundraising, new business models for cockfighting, and new activities for our senior citizens, which do not rely on gambling,” he said.
Easy for the senator to say now, but don’t be surprised if these new “business models” of cockfighting are taken underground.