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Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Discusses Imposing Sanctions on US

10 July 2010 by Devon Chappell

The tiny Caribbean nation of Antigua and Barbuda was one of the first jurisdictions to regulate online gambling in the world. Well, at least, it was one of the first online gambling jurisdictions to get on the map, so to speak, and become a haven for online casinos and all manner of internet betting sites.

That was in the early days of online gambling, and as such, it was also before the passing of the infamous U.S. online gambling bill (the UIGEA) seeking to make certain forms of internet wagering illegal, such as online casino gambling. While Antigua and Barbuda still operates a Directorate of Offshore Gaming to oversee the regulation of licensed betting companies, truth be told, their numbers are far down from times long ago.

Well, not that long ago. The UIGEA was passed only five years ago. But five years is a long time when we’re talking millions of dollars. Let’s see – about $105 million to be exact.

That’s the number based on $21 million/year for sanctions. And it’s a figure that Antigua and Barbuda is entitled to apply to levy on the United States as part of a World Trade Organization shortly following the passing of the UIGEA. Despite the U.S. government’s balking at a WTO ruling stating that the UIGEA put the American government in violation of a trading practices treaty, Antigua and Barbuda never received a penny in compensation.

Now, Antigua’s Prime Minister, Mr. Baldwin Spencer, says the debilitating effect on its economy is very clear. Compounded by the global economic crisis, the tiny Caribbean island has certainly suffered since 2005. PM Spencer has made numerous attempts to reach a negotiated settlement with the U.S. government, but there has been no budging whatsoever, and an apparent disinterest to even deal with the matter.

Critics of Spencer’s plan to impose sanctions on the U.S. government – which he recently announced at the CARICOM summit in Jamaica – say the imposing sanctions would only further hurt the economy of Antigua and Barbuda, while having practically no impact on the U.S. economy. That’s a strong a legitimate argument to consider for sure.

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