Little Antigua Still Wields Big Club in Online Gaming Trade War

by Lou on May 27, 2006

Just prior to the weekend, Antigua’s Minister of Finance and the Economy, Dr. Errol Cort, indicated that the United States and Antigua have jointly submitted a “sequencing agreement” to the World Trade Organization’s Dispute Settlement Body to determine if the United States has implemented the recommendations and rulings of the DSB. (See previous posts for background information on the dispute between the USA and Antigua, regarding online gaming.)

Dr. Cort also expressed his government’s concern with pending legislation before the House Judiciary Committee of the US Congress, and was specifically referring to legislation introduced into the United States Congress on February 16, 2006 entitled the “Internet Gambling Prohibition Act” (the “Goodlatte Bill”), and H.R. 4411, cited as the “Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2005” introduced on November 18, 2005 (the “Leach Bill”).

Antigua’s position is that these bills are contrary to the rulings and recommendations of the DSB. As these bills are pushed through Congress by their sponsors, expect Antigua to continue to press their issue — already validated by the World Trade organization — to force the US to accommodate Antigua’s right to offer internet gaming opportunities to American customers.

Because Antigua, a country with only 70,000 residents, can’t pose much of a trade threat to the USA by boycotting American goods if the US does not comply with the WTO’s decision, their next step may involve abrogating copyright laws in Antigua, thus allowing software pirates to produce bootleg CDs and DVDs just a few miles off our border. This would really hurt some of the bigger firms, such as Time Warner and Microsoft, and would raise this little trade dispute to something a lot more all-encompassing than just the small issue of access to online gaming customers.

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