Antigua Appeals to WTO to Resolve Online Gambling Dispute

Published Thursday, August 02, 2012 -

In 2006 the United States of America shredded the online gambling industry by implementing the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act. This act caused extreme economic damage to the small Caribbean island nation of Antigua and Barbuda. Now the government has approached Pascal Lamy the Director General of the World Trade Organization, in an effort to achieve a compromise with the United States on fair compensation for their actions.

In 2004, the WTO agreed that United States laws regarding online gambling among other laws were in violation of USA’s international treaty obligations. In all that time the government of Antigua and Barbuda has not received any compensation and said that "it has been unable, despite sustained efforts, to either get the United States to comply with the WTO ruling or negotiate any reasonable compromise to settle the dispute".

In its appeal to the Director of the WTO the Antigua and Barbuda government received a cautious response who said he was awaiting a substantive response from the United States on the matter before he could resolve the issue. Ambassador Colin Murdoch, who is also the permanent secretary in Antigua and Barbuda's Department of Trade, Industry and Commerce, reported that he was convinced that the Director of the WTO was serious about helping to resolve the long standing case. Murdoch commented, "Lamy appeared keen to preserve the legitimacy of the WTO dispute settlement system and to have the WTO play a positive role in the outcome," Continuing Murdock explained, "It remains to be seen whether the US will agree that an impartial voice in the room, not beholden to either side, can bring value-added to the process."

This is an example of a David and Goliath situation. It is thought that when the US prohibited offshore gambling Antigua had a 25 percent of the online gambling market in the USA compromising a large portion of the small island nation’s economy. Hopefully there will be some resolution to the issue which seems to be markedly unfair to the little country.

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