Monday July 8,2013 : U.S. INTERNET GAMBLING LEGALISATION MOVES COULD STRENGTHEN ANTIGUA'S CASE
Islander's legal representative explains why.
Moves in the United States towards legalising online gambling could significantly benefit the Antigua and Barbuda World Trade Organisation case against the USA, says Antigua's legal representative Mark Mendel.
Addressing local media that included the publication Carinarena over the weekend whilst participating in an Antiguan television show, Mendel discussed the long-running dispute with the Americans in the WTOand suggested that the increased push by American legislators to legalise online gambling within the United States borders could be good for the Antiguan cause.
“This is of considerable benefit to us … It vindicates what we have said all along,” Mendel opined, explaining that since 1998 the United States had breached its commitments to members of the WTO under the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) by enacting laws that prevented foreign-based operators from offering gambling and betting services to its citizens, crippling Antigua & Barbuda’s burgeoning gaming industry.
The change of direction toward legalization weakens the USA’s previous stance that they were “averse to gambling” on moral and legal grounds.
“Now that they are moving in that direction themselves, forcefully…that pretty much completely takes away their formal defense at the WTO,” the attorney said, adding that the new developments are also strengthening support for the islanders in their call for an equitable resolution to the dispute, in which Antigua has so far won every round in the WTO dispute panel hearings.
“Different countries (are) standing up and telling the Americans that they have to comply with the rulings and negotiate with us fairly. I think it has made a very big difference in that regard,” Mendel said, naming Venezuela, Brazil, and China, along with other Caricom and European countries, as supporters of Antigua & Barbuda.
Despite the WTO finding in Antigua & Barbuda’s favour in 2004 and upholding the decision in 2005, the US remains non-compliant and has failed to satisfactorily negotiate the matter.
Caribarena also reports that financial services firm Morgan Stanley has predicted a change in fortunes for the US’ online gambling sector, forecasting the industry would be worth US$9.3 billion by 2020 in a recent report.
The islanders remain committed to a fair solution, Mendel said, noting that the small island nation is now more determined than ever to achieve a just conclusion to the affair.
Although he stressed that negotiation is the preferred route, a six-month plan has already been developed, outlining steps towards suspending and monetising the nations’ right to disregard certain US intellectual property rights, a course approved by the WTO.
“We have been as kind and gentle and patient as you could expect a government to be over ten years and it hasn’t gotten them (US) in the mode of actually negotiation fairly. This is the way to make that happen,” Mendel said.