Consultations Requested for Online Casino Ban
Antigua and Barbuda has this week requested consultations with Washington over U.S. restrictions on online casino gambling. According to several analysts, the request is a step in the direction toward establishing a World Trade Organization (WTO) panel to investigate whether the U.S. government’s position on online casino gambling is in conflict with international trade rules. News of the request was made public in a communication from Antigua, dated June 8, asked the U.S. to hold talks on the online casino issue within two weeks.
The dispute centers on whether the U.S. should drop its prohibition on American casino players placing bets at online casino sites. A previous WTO ruling stipulated that some U.S. laws on online casino gaming were in line with international commerce rules, but others were not. If the request for consultation is accepted and no solution is agreed between the two parties within the 15-day period, a WTO panel will be established to report on U.S. compliance within 90 days. The decision is open to appeal from either side. The U.S. contends that online casino gambling should be prohibited because it violates some of the country’s state laws and a government spokesperson informed the WTO’s dispute settlement body in April that its laws were in line with trade rules.
However, Antigua strongly disputes the U.S. position and says the prohibition against online casino gambling directly discriminates against its island economy. Its request for consultation included the statement that “Antigua and Barbuda considers that the United States has taken no measures to comply with the (WTO) recommendations and rulings.” The Caribbean nation originally filed its case with the trade organization in 2003, contending that U.S. restrictions on online casino gambling violated trade commitments the United States made as a member of the 149-member WTO.