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Antiguan Online Gambling Operators Could Travel to and from US as Part of Deal

Written by:
C Costigan
Published on:
Feb/21/2011

As part of a deal being worked out to abide by a World Trade Organization decision favoring the tiny Caribbean island nation of Antigua, licensed online gambling operators are anticipating a decision that would allow them to travel to and from the United States without prosecution.  Such operators have long been targets of US authorities since the 2006 apprehension and subsequent imprisonment of BetOnSports former CEO David Carruthers as he changed flights in Fort Worth, Texas. 

“I should be able to come back to the US within the year,” said one operator, speaking on anonymity. 

Antigua was one of the first jurisdictions to begin licensing Internet gambling businesses back in 1995 even before Web gambling came into being.

On 21 March 2003, Antigua and Barbuda requested consultations with the US regarding measures applied by central, regional and local authorities in the US, which affect the cross-border supply of gambling and betting services. Antigua and Barbuda considered that the cumulative impact of the US measures was to prevent the supply of gambling and betting services from another WTO Member to the United States on a cross-border basis.

According to Antigua and Barbuda, the measures at issue may be inconsistent with the US obligations under the GATS, and in particular Articles II, VI, VIII, XI, XVI and XVII thereof, and the US Schedule of Specific Commitments annexed to the GATS.

The World Trade Organization (WTO) would ultimately find in favor of Antigua.  On 7 January 2005, the United States notified its intention to appeal certain issues of law and legal interpretations developed by the Panel.  The WTO would go on to uphold its decision, however, the US has not effectively complied with the ruling.

Being declared “safe” to travel to and from the United States by the Federal government is easier said than done.  Local law enforcement, often in conjunction with the Department of Justice, has aggressively prosecuted Internet gaming executives over the past few years, mostly on the payment processing front. 

When a Sportingbet Chairperson entered the US soon after the Carruthers arrest, it was the Louisiana State Police who issued an arrest warrant against Peter Dicks.  In that high profile case, Dicks arrived at New York’s JFK Airport, where he was briefly detained.  New York’s then Governor George Pataki refused to have the Sportingbet Chairperson extradited to Louisiana and authorities ultimately released Dicks. 

- Christopher Costigan, Gambling911.com Publisher

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