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Antigua Online Gambling Issues Still in Limbo

Written by:
C Costigan
Published on:
Jan/29/2009
Antigua

According to a report Thursday in the Antigua Sun, the island nation of Antigua is seeking a compromise with the U.S. government regarding the long running online gambling dispute between both countries.

With its population of just under 70,000, the Caribbean nation was among the first to embrace online gambling in the early 1990's.  It began licensing these establishments in 1996.  Antigua is still recognized as a center for online gambling companies such as World Sports Exchange and Intertops as well as some other big name i-gaming software firms.

In December 2007, the World Trade Organization ruled in favor of Antigua in its request to impose $3.4 billion in retaliatory measures against the U.S. for allegedly violating its WTO commitments.  Antigua argued on the basis of "protectionism" by the U.S. and individual state governments of its own casino industry, something that would later be brought up when the commonwealth of Kentucky attempted unsuccessfully to seize some 141 online gambling domain names on the basis that these firms interfered with Kentucky's own horse gambling business.

The WTO ruling permits Antigua to use annual trade sanctions against the U.S. retroactive to April 2006 for the amount of $21 million until the United State government reaches compliance with the WTO.  To date, it has not.

Antigua and Barbuda's attorney at the World Trade Organization, Mark Mendel, stated that the current WTO case remains suspended while both nations pursue settlement negotiations.  Earlier this month, Mendel expressed optimism over continued talks and has met with officials in Washington. 

With the new Obama administration comes a new Office of the U.S. Trade Representatives (USTR), which according to Mendel, instills some hope that trade obligations will finally be honoured.

 "We have high hopes that the new moral tone of this administration might make it more inclined to honour its trade obligations, particularly with small, developing countries," he told the gaming Web site MajorWager.com.

Christopher Costigan, Gambling911.com Publisher        

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