U.S. Online Casino Legislation Under Fire
John Ashe, Antiguan ambassador to the World Trade Union. has spoken out recently in relation to the U.S. stance against online casino gambling on what he calls “the one way street” of WTO agreements. Ashe has criticized the U.S. government for dragging its heels in the long-running online casino case heard last year at the WTO, and for failing to comply in a timely manner with subsequent WTO rulings. The ambassador’s statements were prompted by news that the U.S. Senate is currently considering new legislation which would effectively ban the $12 billion online casino gambling industry.
Ashe told fellow diplomats discussing the online casino issue at a session of the WTO’s Dispute Settlement Body that he believed the time has come for the U.S. to demonstrate its faith in WTO agreements. Antigua supports a total population of 67,000 with few natural resources. Online casino operators were welcomed by the nation in the 1990s for the employment and taxation revenue needed to boost its fragile economy. Online casino gambling now constitutes a large part of the country’s annual revenue and provides employment for over 20 percent of the island’s residents.
A U.S. government spokesperson has confirmed that the U.S. is still forming an adequate response to the WTO ruling. Officials state they are working to ensure that domestic gambling operations in the country are subject to exactly the same rules as foreign online casino operators, and that there is no discrimination against Antigua. Antigua’s original complaint to the WTO cited U.S. anti-gambling legislation was discriminating against the country’s online casino industry.