continues to press USA on online casinos
The Caribbean country of Antigua and Barbuda has
asked for consultations with Washington over U.S. restrictions
on online casinos, a step toward establishing a WTO panel to
investigate whether the online casinos laws comply with
international trade rules, according to a document made public.
But what does this mean for the future of online casinos? Will
it strengthen worldwide online casinos support? Will it weaken
the United States’ stance on online casinos?
The communication from Antigua, dated June 8, asked the United
States to suggest dates for holding talks about the online
casinos dispute within two weeks.
If no solution is agreed in by the two parties within the 15-day
period, a World Trade Organization panel would be established to
report on U.S. compliance with the online casinos measures
within a three month period. That decision can then be appealed
by either side.
The dispute centers on whether Washington should drop
prohibitions on Americans placing bets in online casinos. A
previous WTO ruling said that some U.S. laws were in line with
international commerce rules, but others regarding online
casinos were not.
"Antigua and Barbuda considers that the United States has taken
no measures to comply with the recommendations and rulings," the
The U.S. still strongly believes and expresses that online
casinos should be prohibited because it violates some U.S. state
laws, and told the WTO's dispute settlement body in April that
it believed its online casinos laws were in line with trade
rules. Still, online casinos have been regulated and legalized
in many countries, including the United Kingdom.
Antigua says the offshore online casinos industry is a lucrative
source of revenue and provides an income for hundreds of
islanders. The prohibitions, it says, are hurting the island
country's efforts to diversify its economy away from tourism.
The country is trying to modernize, and online casinos offer a
great starting point.
Furthermore, Antigua cited three U.S. laws that effectively
prohibited their companies from providing gambling services to
people in the United States: the Wire Act, the Travel Act and
the Illegal Gaming Business Act.
"Neither during the reasonable period of time nor to date has
the United States introduced, much less passed, any legislation
that would amend or effect the Wire Act, the Travel Act or the
IGBA in such a manner as to make those statutes WTO-consistent,"
Antigua's communication said.
It also said two more bills now before Congress would also
contravene the WTO ruling.
Antigua, a former British colony, filed the case before the WTO
in 2003, contending that U.S. restrictions on Internet gambling
violated trade commitments the United States made as a member of
the 149-member WTO.
U.S. trade officials disagreed, saying that negotiators involved
in the Uruguay Round of global trade talks, which created the
WTO in 1995, clearly intended to exclude gambling.
Clearly, what this all means, is that a tiny nation like Antigua
continues to show its fortitude and power.