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WTO Affirms Preliminary Ruling On US Online Gambling Ban

by Amanda Banks, for LawAndTax-News.com, London

12 November 2004


The World Trade Organisation (WTO) on Wednesday delivered its verdict on the dispute between the United States and Antigua and Barbuda over the former's prohibition of online gambling, finding once again in favour of the Caribbean jurisdiction.

Antigua and Barbuda initially brought the case to the WTO in 2003, arguing that by restricting the internet gambling activities of US citizens, the United States was unfairly damaging the jurisdiction's economy, in contravention of the General Agreement on Trade and Services (GATS).

After the US lost an arbitration proceeding under the trade dispute resolution process of the WTO in March, both sides attempted to reach a negotiated settlement. However, following four months of negotiations, Dr Errol Court, Antigua’s finance minister, revealed last month that all opportunities for a mutually agreed settlement had been “fully exhausted.”

In a statement released following delivery of the WTO verdict (which supported a preliminary ruling on the matter issued in March of this year), spokesman for the US Trade Representative's Office, Richard Mills expressed the USTR's determination to vigorously contest the decision, observing that:

"Throughout our history, the United States has had restrictions on gambling, like many other countries. Given these restrictions, it defies common sense that the United States would make a commitment to let international gambling operate within our borders. Antigua is arguing for a result that was never imagined, much less bargained for."

The dispute will now go before a WTO appeal panel, and a decision is expected next spring.

A comprehensive report detailing the online gambling situation in the key offshore jurisdictions is available in the Tax News Reports Shop at http://www.tax-news.com/reportshop/

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