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Zookz.com Not Authorized to Operate Out of Antigua

Written by:
Jagajeet Chiba
Published on:
Jul/17/2009

Following news reports that a music download company had claimed to be legally operating out of Antigua with the consent of that island nation, the Antiguan Government responded firmly that this is simply not the case.

The Government issued the following statement:

"It has come to the attention of the Government of Antigua and Barbuda that there is a web site named Zookz.com that offers unlimited entertainment downloads for a fixed monthly fee.  The company claims it is operating from Antigua and therefore it is permitted to offer downloads under the auspices of a 2007 World Trade Organization  ruling in the remote gaming case brought by Antigua against the US.  The company's claims to be "authorized" by Antiguan government approval or under the WTO case are without merit.    

 

"This press release is written to clarify the situation from the point of view of the 

Government of Antigua and Barbuda.   The Zookz.com web site is not operating 

under the authority or with the knowledge of the Government of Antigua and 

Barbuda.   More specifically, Zookz.com is not authorized by the Government of 

Antigua and Barbuda, or by the World Trade Organization, to offer entertainment 

downloads in contravention of international law. 

 

"Minister of Finance Harold Lovell stated, "The operators of Zookz.com have not 

played any role in the Antiguan gaming industry or in our country's case pending 

before the WTO.  Only the Government of Antigua and Barbuda has the right to 

implement and oversee the intellectual property sanctions it was awarded by the 

WTO.  As of this time, the Government of Antigua and Barbuda has not 

authorized any person or entity to implement sanctions.  While we may in the 

future consider exercising the right to impose sanctions, as of this moment, I am 

instead looking forward to meeting with the United States Government in the 

near future and focusing on a mutually beneficial resolution of the issues raised 

by the remote gambling case." 

 

"Under the US-Gambling case before the WTO, Antigua retains its right to 

implement intellectual property sanctions against the US if the remote gambling 

matter can not be brought to a negotiated solution.  If and when the Government 

of Antigua and Barbuda invokes sanctions it will follow WTO protocol. 

 

"The Zookz.com matter has been referred to the Antiguan Ministry of Legal Affairs for a full investigation."

Antigua was one of the first nations to legalize, license and regulate online gaming. Some countries, most notably the United States, argue that because the gaming transaction is initiated in their jurisdictions that the act of online wagering is illegal. This argument has been repudiated by the World Trade Organization.

The WTO found that the Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act (UIGEA) passed in October of 2006 was a prima facie violation of the GATS treaty obligations enforced by the WTO, resulting in a series of rulings unfavourable to the US.

A rider to the arbitration ruling affirmed the right of Antigua to take retaliatory steps in view of the prior failure of the US to comply with GATS. These included the rare, but not unprecedented, right to disregard intellectual property obligations to the US.

Jagajeet Chiba, Gambling911.com 

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