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By Fili Sagapolutele

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (June 25, 2000 – PIDP/CPIS)---The American Samoa Government's Attorney General and the Director of Commerce Department will meet this week to coordinate the enforcement of Governor Tauese Sunia's order to investigate and prosecute those in violation of the territory's anti-gambling laws.

The governor's directive, released to reporters on Friday, was signed on June 22 and follows a High Court of American Samoa decision, which declared "poker machines illegal in the Territory of American Samoa."

The court's ruling stems from a lawsuit filed against the American Samoa Government and Governor Tauese Sunia by territorial lawmaker Muavaefaatasi Ae Ae, Jr., and Paul E. Bailey last year.

Based on that court decision, Governor Tauese said, "It is clear that poker machines are illegal."

He directed Attorney General Toetagata Albert Mailo and Commerce Director Aliimau JR Scanlan to "work together to identify the location of all poker machines."

Beginning July 1, the two government officials and their support staff, are "directed to commence investigation and prosecution" under the territorial government's no-gambling laws," Tauese wrote.

He further ordered that poker machines be "confiscated . . .within bounds of the law."

"Your assistance in resolving this long standing dilemma is appreciated," the governor concluded.

Aliiimau said he will meet with the attorney general or the attorney general's representative to map out plans in accordance with the governor's directive. He noted, however, that he had not yet read the court's ruling.

Under the no-gambling laws, violators are subject to a fine of $1,000 and one-year in jail for offenses.

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