Fri | Jan 19, 2018

Antigua looking to Trump administration to end online gaming dispute

Published:Tuesday | January 10, 2017 | 1:02 PMCMC

The Antigua and Barbuda government says it is looking to the new Donald Trump administration in a bid to end its long standing battle with the United States over online gaming.

Governor General Sir Rodney Williams, delivering the traditional Throne speech at the start of a new session of Parliament on Monday, said the Gaston Browne administration is also seeking to enact legislation to help it deal with the matter.

In 2005, the World Trade Organisation (WTO) ruled that Washington had violated international trade agreements by prohibiting operation of offshore Internet gambling sites. Antigua claimed it lost US$3.4 billion a year due to the US action, but the WTO awarded the island US$21 million.

But in its final ruling, the Geneva-based WTO allowed Antigua and Barbuda to suspend certain concessions and obligations it has under international law to the United States in respect of intellectual property rights.

In September 2014, the Browne administration said that it was seeking US$100 million to settle the dispute, admitting that while the figure represents a reduction on what St John’s had originally been demanding, it is negotiable and could be a mixture of cash and kind.

Last July Browne, in a radio and television broadcast, said his administration had dismissed a proposal by the United States to end their long-running dispute and said Washington now owes the island in excess of US$200 million.

He said that since his party came to office in June 2014, it has engaged the US authorities in discussions.

Antigua and Barbuda has criticised the United States since 1998 for breaching its commitments to members of the WTO under the General Agreement on Trade in Services by enacting laws that prevented foreign-based operators from offering gambling and betting services to its citizens.