International Gambling Outlook
By Lawrence G. Walters, Esq.
Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness
As legislation moves forward in Congress to ban Internet gambling, one Caribbean island is concerned the proposed new law will annihilate licensed Internet casinos operating on its shores, and rob it of much-needed revenues. Antigua and Barbuda, two specks of Caribbean sand that have become legalized havens for Internet casino operators, have taken action in the World Trade Organization (WTO), challenging U.S. authority to outlaw Internet betting. Antiguan authorities contend such a prohibition would breach international trade protocols. Antigua, for its part, says that with the downturn in the tourism industry, the country has come to rely on revenues generated from licensing and taxing of Internet casinos on its territory. 'What we want is survival, not blood,' said Sir Ronald Sanders, Antigua's ambassador to the WTO. The Internet betting industry employs 3,000 people in Antigua, and officials say that any attempt by the U.S. to ban Internet gambling would be in violation to its commitments under the WTO's commercial services agreement. Without business from American gamblers, Sanders said, Antigua's economy could once again be devastated. Antigua is not alone it their quest to license Internet gambling. All online gaming companies within or hosted in Panama have to be registered under the Online Gaming Act of November 12, 2002. The regulation allows for Internet international wagering. The telecommunications system is via a fiber-optic system. Internet gaming companies located in Panama enjoy complete tax exemptions, and customs duty concessions are given for imports needed to carry on Internet gaming. Offshore companies, such as Internet gaming companies are not subject to foreign exchange control. There is also a new call center incentive and training program that boasts numerous qualified bilingual workers, and a proposed law in the legislative assembly to make English the second official language, therefore eliminating the need for translations for official documents and procedures. Applications for both Internet Casinos and Sports Books are processed and issued by International Cybergaming Corp, a Master Licensor. Costa Rica has also had their eye on further expanding Internet gaming. BoDog Sports book & Casino has taken the first step to becoming one of the first sports book and casino operations to be officially licensed by the government of Costa Rica. 'The licensing fee was something we welcomed with open arms,' said Rob Gillespie, BoDog President. 'It shows the world that both private enterprise and governments can work together to better serve an industry.' Based in San Jose, Costa Rica since 1995, BoDog is very comfortable with continuing operations in the country and officially paid their licensing tax.
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