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Antigua Issues Plea To US On E-Gaming

by Amanda Banks, Tax-News.com, London

18 April 2012


Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, Baldwin Spencer, has met with US Trade Representative Ron Kirk, to discuss Antigua and Barbuda’s internet gaming case against the United States.

The landmark decision in 2004 found that United States laws criminalizing remote gaming services offered to American consumers from Antigua were in violation of US international treaty obligations. However, to date, the government of Antigua and Barbuda has said, “it has been unable, despite sustained efforts, to either get the United States to comply with the WTO ruling or negotiate any reasonable compromise to settle the dispute”.

Following the meeting with Kirk, Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, Baldwin Spencer, said he had expressed disappointment that although the case was first adjudicated in 2003, Antigua and Barbuda and the United States have yet to find a mutually agreeable solution to settle the case.

The Prime Minister noted that Antigua and Barbuda had put forth several options to settle the case but that “there has been no fairness in the proposals received from the United States to date”.

“Antigua and Barbuda’s Internet gaming sector has been decimated by the actions of the United States and we believe that we must be fairly compensated for those losses,” Spencer told Kirk.

Due to the structure of the Antiguan economy, its ability to impose sanctions upon the United States have been limited, as enforcement actions historically permitted in such case are limited to trade sanctions. However, due to the inferior size of bilateral trade between Antigua and the US in comparison to lost gambling sector revenues, it is said that any such action would fail to compensate the nation in a meaningful way. In 2006, it was estimated that Antigua held a 25% market share in the American market.

According to the Antigua and Barbuda government's account of the meeting, in an effort to bring a fresh perspective to the case, Baldwin encouraged Kirk to accept Antigua and Barbuda’s recent proposal to take advantage of a “good offices” mediation effort by the WTO Director General.

For his part, Kirk acknowledged that a solution to the case had been elusive but assured Baldwin that “the United States remained committed to working with Antigua and Barbuda in finding a solution to the case”. He expressed the willingness of his office to review the latest proposal from Antigua and Barbuda and to hold further discussions with Antigua and Barbuda’s Ambassador in Washington, DC over the next few days so that a strategy for further action could be discussed.

In February the Antigua and Barbuda government said it would pursue enforcement of the WTO ruling. The law at question, the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, was used by US prosecutors on April 15, 2011, in its legal action against three offshore gambling operators, including two industry leaders at the time, Pokerstars and Full Tilt Poker, and another company Absolute Poker, based in Antigua.

A comprehensive report in our Intelligence Report series examining the new possibilities that offshore e-commerce open up for business, and analysing the offshore jurisdictions that have led the way in offering professional e-commerce regimes for international business, with a particular focus on e-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
TAGS: commerce | law | international financial centres (IFC) | World Trade Organisation (WTO) | offshore | internet | e-commerce | gambling | offshore e-gaming | trade disputes | Antigua and Barbuda | United States | trade

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