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By Fili Sagapolutele

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (March 8, 1999 – Samoa News)---There may be a loophole in the 1989 law concerning poker machines that neither the government, the Fono nor the media was able to identify.

One Samoan poker machine operator pointed it out.

The loophole may make a difference to those machines that were allowed in the Territory under a 1989 law. This may enable the owners to maintain the machines and have them "repaired" when broken, contrary to what the Governor and Attorney General have said is not the case.

Governor Tauese had claimed the intent of the 1989 law was to eliminate poker machines by not allowing new machines into the Territory after1989 and not allowing machines already here to be repaired.

Informing Samoa News in a Letter to the Editor -- it states that reporters should "do a little basic research to go along with all the gossip you report" -- the poker machine owner, who has never returned calls from Samoa News seeking comment, said that nowhere in the law passed in 1988 does it state that poker machines cannot be repaired.

Under that law, ASCA 11.0603 (b), " . . .it shall be unlawful for any person to manufacture, import, attempt to import, or cause to import, whether operable or not, any poker machine, slot machine, or gambling device into or within the Territory of American Samoa" and the magic word "repair" is not mentioned.

Informed about this issue, Rep. Muavaefaatasi Ae Ae, Jr., disagrees with it, noting that intent of the law was to prevent the "manufacturing, importation or repairs to any poker machines."

Rep. Muavaefaatasi is the Chairman of the House Public Safety Judiciary Committee currently reviewing another Senate bill that would outlaw all poker machines and similar gambling devices.

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