The Caribbean Island Jurisdiction That Is Fighting The United States Regarding Access To Online Casinos, Increases The Stakes

The current introduction of additional legislation calculated to ban gambling at online casinos in the USA, appears to have pushed Antigua into objecting that the Americans have done virtually little to meet the WTO rulings with regard to its dispute with the US in regard to online gambling.

The Antigua island government’s WTO representative has made a formal protest with regard to the United States’ ongoing efforts to outlaw Internet gambling and has complained that the United States currently done nothing to put into effect the World Trade Organization ruling against its present restrictions.

Antigua has a population of 67,000 islanders, a substantial portion of which depends on offshore Internet gaming concerns to make a living. As a method for making up for clearly declining tourism revenues, Antigua and Barbuda has been attempting to build up its Internet gambling industry.

In order to carry this out, it has taken the United States to the World Trade Organization in objection to federal laws that forbid the placing of bets by electronic means, across state lines. In 2003, Antigua brought a challenge against that ban as being in violation of service sector commitments that the United States had made in 1995, when the WTO was formed.

Following the WTO Appellate Body’s release of a final decision in the case in April 2018, both sides declared that they had received a victory.

Antigua’s ambassador to the WTO, John Ashe, in his letter to US Trade Representative Rob Portman, demonstrated his concern with regard to two US legislative proposals designed to ban the $12 billion Internet gambling industry. He declared that each is contrary to the rulings and the recommendations of the Dispute Settlement Body of the World Trade Organization. In addition he complained that the United States had not made a move to comply with the April 2018 ruling.

A spokeswoman for the US Trade Representative’s office, Neena Moorjani, said, that a number of different avenues were being explored so as to clarify that no discrimination exists.

In the WTO case, the United States argued that it never intended its services liberalization to include gambling, and that it was on moral grounds that the WTO rules allowed states to restrict trade.

While accepting much of the U.S. reasoning, the Appellate Body said that with regard to betting on horse racing, there seems to be discrimination between foreign and local operators, and that this was in violation with trade rules and had to be stopped.