ST JOHN’S, Antigua, CMC – Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer will deliver the feature address at the start of a two day conference discussing the unresolved gaming dispute with the United States.
A government statement said that the conference, which begins on Wednesday, will discuss the current status of the country’s long-standing dispute with the United States over remote gaming services at the World Trade Organization (WTO).
The event is also intended to forge a consensus among global gaming industry participants on how best to utilise the WTO decision to open up the American domestic remote gaming industry to fair international competition.
On Monday, ST. John’s hinted at the possibility of taking Washington back to the WTO after US authorities shut down certain offshore Internet gambling sites last Friday.
“The WTO ruled that these kinds of laws criminalizing the provision of remote gaming services are contrary to the obligations of the United States under the WTO agreements,” said the island’s legal counsel, Mark Mendell.
In 2005, the WTO ruled that the US had violated international trade agreements by prohibiting operation of offshore Internet gambling sites.
Antigua and Barbuda claimed that it has lost US$3.4 billion a year due to the US action, but the WTO ultimately awarded US$21 million in damages against the US.
During the two-day conference, the statement said that a significant portion will be dedicated to panels and presentations by expert panelists including the island’s permanent representative to the United Nations, John W Ashe, Attorney General Justin Simon, Mendel and American gaming law expert Frank Catania.
Finance Minister Harold Lovell said the conference “marks a sincere attempt by the government of Antigua and Barbuda to reach out to the international remote gaming community to explore ways in which our country’s historic victory at the WTO can be used to open the door to fair and responsible trade in remote gaming services to consumers in the United States, as the WTO has held we are entitled to do.
“We are hopeful, that by engaging more with major industry participants outside of Antigua we might be able to bring more force to bear on what have proven to be very intractable anti-free trade interests in the remote gaming space in America,” Lovell said.
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