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Antigua 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 statement said.
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.




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