Gambling In the Caribbean Under Fire

Published February 24, 2005 by OCR Editor

Gambling In the Caribbean Under Fire

Antigua & Barbuda will soon find out if they can keep engaging in Internet gaming legally or whether the online casinos in these countries may have to shut down.

Recently international law maker and foreign pressure has been applied to the online gambling industry in the Caribbean islands. Antigua & Barbuda will soon find out if they can keep engaging in Internet gaming legally or whether the casinos in these countries may have to shut down. There is a worldwide lobby that is growing in support that is trying to have the businesses operating out of these countries shut down. Aside from Gibraltar and a few other small countries scattered around the world, the Caribbean has been a safe haven for operators of online casinos. But if that changes any time soon it could spell trouble for the entire online gambling industry.

The WTO recently became entangled in a battle with the industry in attempt to enforce heavier regulations and possibly even suspend all activity in the Caribbean. Antigua-Barbuda recently presented its defense of the online casinos operating on its soil while outlining Antigua and Barbuda's case in response to the U.S and WTO pressure. The disputes panel ruled last year that U.S. financial regulations, preventing transactions between U.S. financial institutions and Antiguan-based online casino operators, were in violation of American obligations.

Antigua-Barbuda Minister of Finance and the Economy, Errol Cort explained to the WTO panel that We believe that any resolution to this dispute will see our two countries developing a scheme reasonably acceptable to both of us that allows Antiguan operators fair competitive access to consumers in the United States. Although the United States is not ready to negotiate with Antigua at this time, we are hopeful that upon Antigua prevailing in this appeal, the United States will consider constructive engagement with us to achieve a speedy and comprehensive solution.

So far, Antigua-Barbuda has seen some support from Mexico and other Caricom member-states at the WTO. Mexico has taken into consideration the merits of the case presented by A&B in the WTO dispute with the U.S. on cross-border supply of services, a spokesperson announced in Mexico City. Mexico agrees with the Caricom heads that the case is a pioneering one, instructive in many ways on how small states can defend their rights in the WTO.

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