|The Finance Minster for the tiny Carribbean nation of Antigua and Barbuda has defended his nation's bid to impose $3.4 billion in trade sanctions against the United States following the passage of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) last year.|
Errol Cort accused the US of ignoring a World Trade Organization (WTO) ruling against the online betting ban and dismissed criticism of Antigua's plan to target American trademarks with penalties every year until the United States applies the online and offshore ban more uniformly or allows Americans to place bets with international gambling businesses.
Antigua with only 70,000 inhabitants was slammed by a series of hurricanes in the late 1990s but has since promoted ecommerce including online gaming in a bid to ease its dependency on tourism.
However, the US Congress barred American banks and credit card companies from processing online gambling payments under the UIGEA, denying international gaming businesses access to the lucrative American market, which is the largest in a $15.5 billion global online betting industry.
The WTO upheld Washington's right to prevent offshore gambling in December but stated it was illegal for the United States to target offshore casinos and online gambling without applying the same rules to American operators of off-track horse and dog race betting.
Following this ruling, Washington declared its intention to explicitly remove Internet gambling from its WTO treaty obligations prompting Australia, Canada, Costa Rica, India, Japan, Macau and the 27-nation European Union to join Antigua in filing a separate compensation claim.