Gambling in Antigua
Antigua Barbuda and Online Betting
By Reno Rollins
Antigua is the main island in the country of Antigua and Barbuda. It is also known by the name “Wadadli” (meaning “our own”). The population of the island is 69,000, and it is a constitutional monarchy with Queen Elizabeth II as the head of state. The island’s largest sources of revenue come from education services (two medical schools), offshore banking, tourism and Internet gambling services.
Promoted as a Caribbean paradise, Antigua built its online gambling industry when an economic slump caused a downturn in tourism. Since that time, the island’s economy has grown significantly, with the various online gambling institutions bringing in both jobs and additional revenue.
Gambling Laws in Antigua
Antigua was one of the first nations to legalize and regulate online gambling.
Online gambling services on the islands of Antigua and Barbuda are licensed and regulated by the Financial Services Regulatory Commission’s Division of Gaming. They award two types of licenses: interactive wagering (sports betting) and interactive gaming (poker, bingo and casino games).
The annual fee charged for running interactive gaming services in Antigua is $75,000, and the annual fee for interactive wagering is $50,000.
Casinos are present on the island, and the minimum age limit is set at 18. These facilities offer slot machines, poker and traditional table games like Roulette and Craps.
There are no horse or dog racing tracks in Antigua. The lottery is available, and online bingo seems to have overtaken the terrestrial version in popularity.
Antigua vs. The United States
In 2003, the United States arrested and prosecuted Jay Cohen, a sportsbook owner who operated the World Sports Exchange out of Antigua, for violations of the Wire Act. Cohen would go on to serve time in a Las Vegas federal prison.
This prompted Antigua to file a formal complaint with the World Trade Organization. Their complaint centered around the prosecution of Antiguan companies under American laws originally designed to combat the mafia. Meanwhile, U.S. companies who offered various forms of domestic gambling were left alone.
For several months, Antigua attempted to negotiate a settlement with the United States. When the U.S. refused to negotiate, Antigua asked the WTO for a panel to be formed to resolve the matter. In March of 2004, the panel rules in favor of Antigua, finding that the U.S. restrictions were in violation of international treaties.
In January of 2005, the U.S. appealed the panel’s findings. After oral arguments were presented in April of 2005, the WTO upheld the initial ruling against the United States. The U.S. was then given a “reasonable period of time” (just over a year) to correct the offending laws.
After this period passed, the U.S. submitted a report saying that they were in compliance. Antigua again sought recourse with the WTO and requested consultation with the U.S. When no agreement could be reached, Antigua again requested a panel to render a judgment. During 2006, the United States also passed the Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act, making it a crime for offshore gambling companies to take money from American citizens.
After losing the dispute, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative announced that including Internet gambling commitments in the General Agreement on Trade in Services was a mistake and it would withdraw from those commitments. Antigua responded by calling on the 150 members of the WTO to file claims for compensation against the United States.
Antigua claimed to be entitled to $3.44 billion in compensation from the United States, and this would take the form of patents, industrial designs and trademarks. The European Union ($15 billion), Australia, Macau, Canada, India and Costa Rica also filed for compensation. The U.S. reportedly offered Antigua $500,000, but they rejected the offer.
A WTO ruling was scheduled to be delivered on December 12th, 2007, to determine how much Antigua will receive in compensation from the United States, but the ruling was delayed for unknown reasons. As of this writing, the case is still underway.
Casinos in Antigua
There are six casinos in Antigua. The city with the largest number of casinos is Saint John’s, and the largest casino in the country is King’s Casino (in Saint John’s). The following is a full list of all casinos found in the nation of Antigua and Barbuda:
Grand Princess Casino (Jolly Harbour Centre, Jolly Harbor, Antigua) Open daily from 7am until 5pm. The casino has a 7,100 square foot gaming space. There are 250 gaming machines and 24 table and poker games (including Blackjack, Roulette and Caribbean Stud Poker). There are also three restaurants and one bar located on the property. A private lounge is also offered for games of high stakes poker. A spa is also available. For more information, call 268-562-9900.
St. James Club (Mamora Bay, Antigua) Open daily from 8pm until 1am. 50 gaming machines are available, as well as 8 table and poker games (including Craps, Blackjack and American Roulette). There are three restaurants on the property, and the hotel offers 282 rooms. For more information, you can contact them toll-free at 1-800-345-0356.
Casino Riviera (Runaway Bay, Antigua) The casino is open from 10am until 2am on Sunday thru Thursday and 10am until 4am on Friday and Saturday. There are 35 gaming machines at the casino, as well as 8 table and poker games. There is also one restaurant available. For more information, call 268-562-6262.
Asot’s Arcade Jackpot Casino Slots (18 High Street, Saint John’s, Antigua) 100 gaming machines are available. For more information, call 268-462-2362.
Grand Royal Antiguan (Deep Bay, Saint John’s, Antigua) Open daily from 6pm until 10pm, this casino also has four restaurants and a hotel with 282 rooms. The 5,000 square foot gaming space features 50 gaming machines. For additional information, you may call 800-345-0271.
King’s Casino (Heritage Quay, Saint John’s, Antigua) Open daily from 10am until 4am, the casino offers a 10,000 square foot gaming space. There are 280 gaming machines, as well as 12 table and poker games (including Poker, Craps, Caribbean Stud Poker, Blackjack and American Roulette). A race book and sports book are also located at the casino. The minimum age to enter is 18, and a casual dress code is in effect. One restaurant is available for patrons. For more info, call 268-462-1727.
Online Betting in Antigua
As of this writing, 168 online casinos and sportsbooks are licensed to operate in Antigua and Barbuda. The following 50 should give you a good idea of what’s available.
- The Greek Sports Book
Bodog, the online casino and sports book, also calls the island of Antigua its home. In 2006, this site was ranked number one in customer service by Casino Player Magazine.
Lottery in Antigua
The Caribbean Lottery is available on the island of Antigua and Barbuda. It is operated by Gtech Holdings Corporation. There are also a number of virtual lotteries in operation, such as the one sponsored by Atlantic West Gaming Entertainment Ltd. The Caribbean Lottery launched in June of 2007.
United Kingdom Gambling
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