Online Gambling WTO Antigua USA Dispute Still Smoldering

Published Monday, April 09, 2012 -

The World Trade Organization USA Antigua and Barbuda saga that has been on the legal table for a number of years now has once again surfaced in the news. The aged legal dispute that Antigua the small island nation in the Caribbean has been waging with the USA is not going away as American trade officials would like it to do.

American trade officials claimed back in 2003 that the citizens of the USA needed to be protected from the uncertain status of online gambling in their defence against a claim by the Antiguan government to the WTO that America had violated a signed trade agreement. The WTO Appellate Body in 2005 said while the States had a right to claim it was protecting its people but it could not have interstate online horse racing too. This was a clear violation of US obligations under the General Agreement on Trade in Services. The WTO gave the USA 11 months to either allow Antigua access to the US market or shut down US domestic online horse race betting.

Antigua was patient and after a year in March of 2007, a WTO Compliance Panel determined that America had not lived up to its obligations and possible sanctions should be imposed. In December of 2007, the WTO made the decision that Antigua was entitled to $21million in annual damages. Still nothing has come from the USA and Antigua continued to believe the USA will honour their commitment and pay. Now the total outstanding claim has risen to over $120 million. It has been suggested that the US Department of Justice pre Christmas clarification of the 1961 Wire Act has given more significance to the WTO ruling in this case. The possibility of launching an entirely new legal battle involving the World Trade Organization is being discussed.

America chooses to ignore this situation because they don’t feel threatened by the tiny nation and obviously they don’t really care if the economy in Antigua suffered from their cavalier attitude towards e commerce or the agreement they signed in good faith.

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