Hurricane Adds Urgency to US/Antigua Online Gambling Dispute
The 14-year dispute between the United States and Antigua over online gambling has taken on new urgency in the wake of recent hurricanes, which have devastated the Caribbean. That’s the message Sir Ronald Sanders, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the United States and the Organization of American States for Antigua and Barbuda, shared last week with the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Dispute Settlement Body.
To recap, back in 2003 the WTO ruled that the United States had acted in violation of international trade treaties when it barred its citizens from frequenting online casinos and sportsbooks operated out of Antigua. As part of its ruling, the board determined that the United States should pay Antigua $210 million in penalties. To date, the US has not paid out any portion of that amount.
The situation was so egregious, in the eyes of the WTO, that the organization granted Antigua that right to collect the money in the form of pirated US copyrighted materials. That said, Antigua has long expressed its desire to collect the money through more traditional channels and has yet to execute that “nuclear option.”
At one point, the US offered Antigua $2 million to settle the whole affair and move on. Representatives of Antigua pointed out that at less than one percent of the entire penalty, that amount wouldn’t even cover the legal expenses the country has incurred during the decade-plus legal battle.
For its part, the United States told Sanders that it has great sympathy for the countries impacted by recent hurricanes, and also that it is committed to resolving the dispute with Antigua. Despite offering sympathy, no other action was taken.