|The small nation of Antigua and Barbuda are waiting the outcome of the World Trade Organization's (WTO) trade ruling on April 7th which will decide if their gaming rights are to be brought in line with domestic gambling companies in the US. |
If the original November 2004 ruling is upheld, the US will face compliance issues requiring the US government to address its approach to online gaming rather than simply prohibiting it altogether. ‘Most important will be the validation of Antiguan businesses' right to trade with the large US internet gaming market,’ explained Ron Maginley, spokesman for the Antigua Offshore Gaming Association, an industry trade group.
Antiguan officials anticipate that major US companies, including Citibank, Chase Manhattan, Bank of America, Clear Channel Communication, and Bravo TV, may soon find themselves required to comply with the WTO ruling legitimizing trade between Antiguan online gaming companies and the US market. In recent years, many American companies have turned away business from Antiguan gambling companies after receiving subpoenas or threats of prosecution from the US Justice Department and prosecutors such as New York Attorney General Elliot Spitzer.
The hearing before the Appellate Body is seen by Antiguans as a ‘final hurdle in a lengthy and unprecedented legal battle,’ explained Mark Mendel, the lead legal counsel for Antigua in the dispute.
‘Despite intense scepticism from virtually every quarter, our case is extremely strong and deceptively simple,’ added Mendel. ‘We expect major internet search engines, including Google and Yahoo, financial institutions and credit card service providers will have to do business with Antiguan internet gaming sites on the same basis as they do with US domestic gaming interests, including hundreds of American casinos, prolific state lotteries and many others.’