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Online gambling dispute with Antigua and Barbuda rolls on
As March faded into April this week it appeared that the US Trade Representative at the World Trade Organisation had once again missed a crucial deadline in its dispute with the government of Antigua and Barbuda over online gambling.
The Antigua Sun newspaper, which has been diligently following the many twists and turns in this long-running saga, reported that no word on the issue had been received by the Caribbean islanders. Neither Antigua and Barbuda’s attorney in the matter Mark Mendel nor the local Directorate of Gaming has received any communication from US officials.
In a process that has seen many delays and missed deadlines, the apparent failure of the US to put forward a settlement proposal by the end of the month was apparently met with an air of resignation in Antigua and Barbuda, with officials continuing to adopt a “wait and see” approach to the protracted negotiations process.
The settlement proposal has the potential to end the trade battle over Internet gaming which has dragged on for more than five years.
Mendel has made it clear that any settlement would be expected to address the United States’ failure to comply with the World Trade Organisation (WTO) ruling on non-discriminatory US access for Internet gaming operators as well as Antigua and Barbuda’s claim for compensation following the unilateral US withdrawal of its commitment to provide market access to the sector under the WTO General Agreement on Trade in Services.
The former issue was the subject of a US$21 million sanction award against the US by a WTO Dispute Settlement Body arbitrator last December.
On the latter issue Antigua and Barbuda filed a notice in January requesting arbitration by the WTO.