Antigua Slams US Over Restrictions On Internet Gambling

Mousey

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Antigua Slams US Over Restrictions On Internet Gambling



GENEVA (AP)--The tiny Caribbean nation of Antigua and Barbuda slammed the U.S. on Tuesday over its restrictions on Internet gambling sites based overseas and asked other countries to join in seeking compensation from Washington for its failure to comply with global trade rules.

Antigua, the smallest country to successfully litigate a case in the World Trade Organization's 12-year-history, also threatened to target U.S. trademarks, copyrights and telecommunications companies after the WTO Tuesday formally adopted a landmark decision in March that the U.S.'s continued restrictions on online gambling were illegal.

"Not only do we think that members should press claims for compensatory adjustments as a matter of economic self-interest, but we also believe it is important that the process is made as difficult as possible for the United States," Ambassador John Ashe of Antigua told the WTO's dispute settlement body.

The gambling dispute is threatening to become one of the most complicated the WTO has ever handled and could soon spark a series of compensation negotiations between the U.S. and other trading powers such as the European Union.

After losing the case, the U.S. announced that it would take an unprecedented legal step to change the international commitments it made as part of the 1994 GATS treaty regulating the trade in services among the 150 members of the WTO. As a result, the U.S. declined to challenge Tuesday's adoption of the Internet gambling ruling, because it says that its legal maneuver effectively ends the case.

Juan Millan, a U.S. trade lawyer, told the Geneva-based trade body that the procedure - which no government had previously used to avoid a WTO ruling - was invoked "in order to bring the United States into compliance and to resolve this dispute permanently."

"This modification will ensure...the original U.S. intent of excluding gambling from the scope of U.S. commitments," he said.

The U.S. argues that it is also exempt from negotiating compensation to governments - as required in the GATS clause allowing countries to rewrite their services commitments - because Internet gambling was never explicitly mentioned in the negotiations of the early 1990s.

The March ruling upheld the U.S. right to prevent offshore betting as a means of protecting public order and public morals. But it said it was illegal to target online gambling, without equally applying the rules to U.S. operators offering remote betting on horse and dog racing.

Brazil and India on Tuesday both said the U.S. was obliged by law to compensate Antigua if it wants to now redefine its services obligations. The E.U. questioned how the new clarification of the U.S. ban on online betting would eliminate the discrimination that allows for U.S. companies providing offshore betting on horses and other services to remain in business......

There's more... Outdated URL (Invalid)to the NASDAQ article
 

lots0

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With the amount of money lost in the UK over the US government actions I am very surprised that the UK does not file a complaint with the WTO as well. I guess the UK can afford to have Billions and Billions in GNP vanish into thin air.

Or

Maybe the Folks running the UK know that the WTO exists ONLY to promote US Corporate Interests.
 

dominique

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Mendel said the nation of 80,000 people was looking at different ways to recoup its losses - a challenge for such a small country facing the world's biggest economic power. Antigua's legal efforts were largely bankrolled by U.K.- owned Internet gambling operators with servers licensed in the country.

"Maybe we'll target telecoms. Intellectual property rights - that's a way we can possibly fight back," Mendel speculated.

The E.U. has stressed at every stage in the four-year dispute that it would act in support of its interests - a reference to the U.K.-based companies that lost millions because of the U.S. restrictions. Officials in Brussels said, however, they had yet to notify Washington whether they would submit a compensation claim.

Hehe, target telecoms, very interesting!!!
 

Mousey

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Amazing, isn't it? Of all the countries and huge businesses affected by the US and their online gaming ban, it's left to tiny little Antigua to stand up and fight to make the US abide by WTO rulings.
 

nielsenj

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It is sad that "little Antigua" is left alone in this fight, but I sadly cannot see which other nation that are likely engage in this WTO trade dispute. Politicians all over Europe fight to keep the national monopolies on gambling even though the European Union Court from time to time rules that monopolies are in conflict with the principles of free trade on goods and services accoss member state borders.

The only nation with a positive approach to gambling in the European Union is the UK and they should have an interest in supporting Antigua in its dispute with the US. But a WTO trade dispute is a seriuos issue which means that it will land on the Prime Ministers desk. Can anyone seriously imagine Blair standing up to Bush. I can't.
 

jetset

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It is sad that "little Antigua" is left alone in this fight, but I sadly cannot see which other nation that are likely engage in this WTO trade dispute. Politicians all over Europe fight to keep the national monopolies on gambling even though the European Union Court from time to time rules that monopolies are in conflict with the principles of free trade on goods and services accoss member state borders.

The only nation with a positive approach to gambling in the European Union is the UK and they should have an interest in supporting Antigua in its dispute with the US. But a WTO trade dispute is a seriuos issue which means that it will land on the Prime Ministers desk. Can anyone seriously imagine Blair standing up to Bush. I can't.

Blair might not, but Brown might.

UK public companies were the biggest losers here with investors prejudiced to the tune of billions. And Antigua has confirmed that some of its legal expenses in taking the US down came from UK gambling groups.

This could be a great opportunity to recoup some of those losses, and despite the protests by the US Trade representative I think there's a case for compensation here that the US might be prepared to meet just to make this aggravating problem go away.

So far, Brazil and India have supported Antigua's stand - hardly insubstantial WTO trade members. And the EU has criticised the Americans although it has not come out in open support of Antigua....yet.

I think the compensation thing could fly; that won't help the industry much but at least the current anti-online gambling hypocrites will have been made to pay some sort of price for the damage and inconvenience they have caused.
 

silcnlayc

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EU seeks compensation from U.S. for banning online gambling

By The Associated Press
The European Union told the United States on Tuesday that it wanted compensation for a U.S. ban on foreign online gambling sites that does not comply with global trade rules.

British online gaming operators such as Sportingbet PLC and Leisure & Gaming PLC were forced to quit the profitable U.S. market last year when Washington stopped U.S. banks and credit card companies from processing payments to online gambling businesses outside the country.

The decision closed off the most lucrative region in a market worth US$15.5 billion (euro11.6 billion) last year. About half of the world's online gamblers are based in the United States.



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But an EU official said the concessions Europe was looking for would likely be "commitments" to open up other trade sectors, meaning gambling sites would not win their way back into U.S. pockets.

"We need new concessions that would be equal with the benefits lost," he said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to be quoted by name in media reports.

Initial negotiations would focus on measuring the loss to European businesses, he said, warning that talks would take some time.

The World Trade Organization ruled in December that the law unfairly targeted offshore casinos, telling the U.S. it could keep restrictions against sport betting in place if they were also applied to American businesses.

The EU _ the world's largest consumer market _ joins the tiny Caribbean nation of Antigua and Barbuda in seeking compensation. The twin-island nation argued that online gambling had provided income for hundreds of its citizens and was helping to end its reliance on tourism, which was hurt by a series of hurricanes in the late 1990s.

After losing the case, the U.S. announced that it would take an unprecedented legal step to change the international commitments it made as part of a 1994 treaty regulating the trade in services among the 150 members of the WTO. As a result, the U.S. declined to challenge the WTO ruling, because it says that its legal maneuver effectively ends the case.

U.S. lawmaker Barney Frank, the Democrat Congressman who chairs the committee that oversees financial services, introduced a bill in April that would reverse the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act _ but his plan faces long odds in Congress, and likely opposition from the Bush administration.

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winbig

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So in other words, they're willing to sell out to the USA? ie: Still no online gaming for Americans...

But an EU official said the concessions Europe was looking for would likely be "commitments" to open up other trade sectors, meaning gambling sites would not win their way back into U.S. pockets.
 

jetset

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On the face of it, it does look like a cynical attempt to take advantage that will not benefit those companies and investors in the EU who really did suffer as a result of the US activity....but it's too early to make that call yet (in my opinion) until the details are known of what the EU claim is.

I wonder if an EU claim nixes seperate and specific complaints from EU members that have been prejudiced - the UK for example?

The US Trade Representative at the WTO has already said that the US does not feel it is obliged to make compensation, so this is likely just the start of a very looooong, complicated legal process (look how much time it took to get this far on the original Antiguan complaint)

And we have yet to see which other WTO members are going to climb in and make a claim - India, for example suffered around 2 000 job losses in mainly Party Gaming companies that were hit badly by the withdrawal from the US following UIGEA.
 

dhayman

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With the amount of money lost in the UK over the US government actions I am very surprised that the UK does not file a complaint with the WTO as well. I guess the UK can afford to have Billions and Billions in GNP vanish into thin air.

This is directly related to the Bush - Blair relationship. Look for this to possibly change, but only after Blair officially steps down.
 

dominique

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None of the things happening because of UIGEA make perfect sense, but at least something is happening.

It is unfortunate that the EU is not specifically asking for reparations for the hurt companies from it's member states. But they are backing Antigua and they are a much more powerful entity.

Everything helps, it will bring up discussion and publicity.
 

jetset

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Update

ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA LODGE WTO COMPENSATION CLAIM

With the June 22 deadline looming, who else wants a piece of the USA?

Following hard on the heels of news earlier this week that the EU has claimed compensation from the United States over its decision to withdraw certain World Trade Organisation commitments, the Caribbean media report that Antigua and Barbuda has also submitted a claim.

The island nation started the furore when in 2003 it took the United States before the WTO disputes panel in a David and Goliath argument over American moves to ban online gambling despite carve-outs within its own laws for Internet gambling by the state lotteries and horse racing industries.

Antigua and Barbuda claimed that the actions of the United States prejudiced it and were not in compliance with US trade commitments made when it joined the WTO.

After a protracted struggle, the World Trade Organisation finally ruled against the United States, whereupon the US Trade Representative moved the goal posts through a decision to remove online gambling from the original trade commitment of the US. This unprecedented action invoked widespread criticism.

However, WTO policies require a member country taking this unusual course of action to be subject to claims for compensation from other WTO members prejudiced by the withdrawal of commitments. The deadline for this is June 22 and the European Union has served notice that it intends to claim, saying it would seek commitments in other trade sectors to replace losses incurred by operators who had to exit the US market after the Act.

Bloomberg's news service indicates that Antigua will file its claim today (Wednesday) two days ahead of the deadline, and that up to $3.4 billion a year is the amount claimed, primarily through the suspension of global copyright and intellectual property rights (TRIPS) agreements.

The Antigua and Barbuda minister of finance, Dr. Errol Cort, has been deeply involved in the dispute with the US from the outset and is quoted as saying: "We feel we have no other choice in the matter, we have fought long and hard for fair access to the U.S. market and have won at every stage of the WTO process.

"This industry has been and can be regulated,'' he said, adding that the dispute isn't a moral issue, as claimed by the U.S.
 

EasyRhino

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Not that I actually understand how WTO policies work, but it almost sounds like countries get a "free shot" at the US:

China could argue to drop car tariffs
Brazil could lobby to drop the sugarbeet subsidy

etc.
 

lots0

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For those of us that want to see a return of online gambling to the USA, this is very good news, very very good news indeed... :D:D:D:D

If Antigua is filing for 3.4 Billion a year, I imagine that the EU will file for at least 5x or 6x that amount, especially if the EU is looking to be compensated for the tens of Billions in losses that some of the EU's members Stock Market's suffered after the signing of the UIGEA by Bush.

I think the London Stock Market took the biggest hit, but companies and Markets all across the EU lost a lot of money directly because of the signing of the UIGEA.

...Then the Bush administration stepped in huge stinky pile of International Crap when they stupidly tried to take gambling off the WTO table, decades after the deal was signed.

It really is becoming an embarrassment to be an American and have the whole world see we have such morons running things here... :oops:
 

Rollo

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Did yall see this one:
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A pretty good article. However it comes with some very bad news:

"But an EU official said the concessions Europe was looking for would likely be "commitments" to open up other trade sectors, meaning gambling sites would not win their way back into U.S. pockets."

An EU push to reopen the markets to online gaming sites was the best bet the industry had IMHO. Repeal legislation is going nowhere anytime soon. This is not good news as even if the EU wins, it looks like gaming isn't coming back if this is true.

This along with news that the FBI is working on a dozen cases is pretty troubling.

I hope Antigua starts starts selling cheap copies of Adobe software and gives away Windows Vista for $1.00 a copy.
 

jetset

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Maybe Canada should seek WTO compensation too?

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Maybe Canada should submit a WTO claim for compensation for the US (re)moving the goal posts, too!!
 

jetset

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Looks as if the Japanese and Indians are going to lodge claims for compensation on the Internet gambling dispute, too - looking for more detail on this report:

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QUOTE: And so, today, what is expected to become a parade of countries demanding sanctions against the United States as a result of its refusal to comply with WTO rulings on gambling services began to form, as Japan and India piled it on with more demands for compensation. Every other signatory affected will have a right to demand sanctions, and those sanctions may, depending on the circumstances, be applied against any American industry, from automobiles to semiconductors. UNQUOTE
 
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