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Online Casino News - April, 2008

Online Gambling Dispute Could Go Further in the WTO



  Seed Newsvine

by Mira Patel, News Staff Writer

April 25, 2008

Antigua and Barbuda could get more money out of its WTO dispute with the U.S. pending current negotiations for due recompense of online gambling funds. As things stand now, a WTO arbitrator has granted Antigua and Barbuda up to $21 million per year, which many analysts agree is a significantly lower value than what the Caribbean island is entitled to.

In contrast to the $3.4 billion per year that Antigua says they have lost because of the passing of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, and the consequent decision of the U.S. to cease from honoring its WTO obligations, the $21 million decision does indeed seem drastically low. Perhaps this is why a lawyer for Antigua said he believes they have a good chance to take the case to the General Council of the WTO.

According to the WTO arbitration panel, Antigua's financial recompense was limited to bets lost at horse racing, being this was one of the niche carve outs in the UIGEA. However, Antigua and many other delegations familiar with the dispute believe the U.S. should be coughing up much more in betting revenue derived from online casino gambling, poker and sports betting.

At one point in time, Antigua and Barbuda licensed hundreds of online casinos and sportsbooks. Now, that number has dwindled to just a handful of license holders. It is clearly evident that since the passing of the UIGEA, the vast majority of operators moved shop to other jurisdictions or closed down altogether. This is the substantive claim for Antigua to take their dispute directly to the WTO General Council - something which has never been done before. Pending further negotiations with the US Trade Representative, the world will soon find out if it comes to this.



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