America's hard-line stance on the issue of internet gambling is likely to be at the top of the agenda during the visit by a delegation from the government of Antigua and Barbuda to Washington this week.
The delegation, led by Minister of Finance Dr Errol Cort, has been holding a series of meetings with representatives of the US Department of State, the US Trade Representative, the Department of Justice and with Members of Congress, in an attempt to resolve the impasse over the American government's refusal to comply with a WTO ruling against US actions preventing banks from processing transactions from online gaming firms based in the islands.
As one of the world's most popular e-gaming domiciles, the issue is viewed as crucial to the tiny jurisdiction's economic survival; Antigua-based operators are thought to account for 25% of the estimated $12 billion wagered online by American punters every year.
However, subsequent developments will also have alarmed Antigua, such as the June 1st indictment against BetonSports, effectively shutting down the company which ran its US internet business from Costa Rica and Antigua, and the approval by the House of Representatives of an internet gaming prohibition bill, which toughens sanctions against companies offering online gaming services from offshore locations.
According to supporters of this bill, online gambling sucks huge amounts of money out of the United States while providing a poteital avenue of funding for money launderers, criminals and terrorists.
While Dr Cort and his delegation may be powerless to influence the US judicial authorities in their apparent crackdown on internet gambling, which cannot be conducted across state and international boundaries under existing legislation (although the situation regarding e-gaming is far from certain legally), perhaps his only hope in the short term will be to try and persuade Washington to refrain from further action against Antigua while the WTO Dispute Settlement Body considers its complaint against continuing US non-compliance with a previous ruling.A comprehensive report in our Intelligence Report series examining offshore e-commerce and online gaming is available in the Lowtax Library at http://www.lowtaxlibrary.com/asp/subs_reports.asp and a description of the report can be seen at http://www.lowtaxlibrary.com/asp/description_report6.asp
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