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US Online Poker Bill Protested by Antigua

Written By: Maya Michaels | October 31, 2012 | Posted In Poker News

The Caribbean nation of Antigua and Barbuda is protesting in opposition to suggested laws in the United States that would see some kinds of online poker and off-track horserace wagering legalised.

Based on a report from The Hill newspaper, the tiny island country can feel that the designed Internet Gambling Prohibition, Poker Consumer Protection and Strengthening UIGEA Act of 2012 law, which was written by Senators Harry Reid and Jon Kyl, mischaracterises the long-running trade dispute involving the 2 nations and would harm its domestic iGaming industry by favouring businesses located in the United States.

Mark Mendel, a legal advisor to Antigua said “If they pass this legislation, we can go back to the [World Trade Organization (WTO)] and embarrass them even further,”

“Work with us before this thing becomes law and figure this out and reach a settlement. We want to work with you. We want to have a fair and reasonable settlement and this is the perfect time to get it done.”

Antigua submitted a claim with the WTO against the United States in 2003 for violations of its commitments under the General Agreement on Trade and Services (GATS) in not letting it deliver online gaming services to players based in America. The international organisation later ruled in the Caribbean nation’s favour but the dispute lingers with Antigua claiming that it is owed $3.4 billion annually in damages for being refused access to the US iGaming market. In retaliation, the WTO authorised Antigua to violate $21 million per year in intellectual property although both sides have agreed to seek a fair settlement.

A recently released draft of the suggested law from Senators Reid and Kyl called the earlier WTO decision ‘erroneous’ and states that the United States might never allow members to provide online gambling services.

The draft legislation reads “The United States never intended to include Internet gaming of any kind within the scope of its commitments under GATS and, therefore, no WTO member had any competitive expectation of access to the United States Internet gaming market,”

Mendel said that the planned online poker bill would further squeeze Antigua out of the American iGaming market.

Mendel said “The way that they designed the bill is to get a license, you have to be a land-based casino operator already,”

“There’s no way the Antiguans would able to get a license under this bill. What the bill says is that your servers and whatever else you need to physically run the business, it has to be located in the United States.”

Antigua entered the online gaming industry in the 1990s with Mendel declaring that the nation wants to diversify its economy so that it is not dependent upon tourism.

Finance and Economy Minister for Antigua, Harold Lovell said “The wording of Senator Kyl’s legislation misrepresents the facts,”

“Given that the United States has been immersed in a trade dispute for the last decade with Antigua and Barbuda, the evidence is there for all to see that remote gaming was always at issue. This is nothing short of legislating historical fiction.”

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