Antigua and Barbuda, US Internet Online Casino disputes

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GENEVA, Switzerland: With the deadline for action a mere three weeks away, the Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) of the World Trade Organization (WTO) heard a status report from the United States on Friday on steps it intends to take to implement that body’s recommendations and rulings in the Internet-gaming dispute with Antigua and Barbuda.


In introducing the report to the DSB, the US representative, Mr. Steven Fabry, said that the US Administration, in consultation with the US Congress, has been working on appropriate steps to resolve this matter.


According to the Antigua and Barbuda government, this is the same stock response he had given on every occasion in which the US was required to submit a status report, on the steps it had taken to resolve the various disputes it had lost to another WTO member.


In response to the US statement, Antigua and Barbuda’s Ambassador to the WTO, Dr. John Ashe, said that: As we had anticipated, the statement provides little in the way of useful information to this body and to our country as to when and how the United States will come into compliance with the recommendations and rulings of the DSB. With an implementation deadline approaching on 3 April 2006, less than three weeks from now, we might be forgiven, Sir, for having some anxiety at a complete lack of information from the United States on this important matter facing the small and delicate economy of Antigua and Barbuda.


Ambassador Ashe also highlighted the repeated efforts of his government to devised an equitable solution to the dispute that would not only take into account the benefits accorded to Antigua and Barbuda under the recommendations and rulings, but also reasonably and comprehensively address the concerns raised by the United States as justifications for prohibiting the provision of services from Antigua to American consumers.


Noting the introduction of two bills in the US Congress — the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2005 and the Internet Gambling Prohibition Act — that are intended to address the difficult topic of remote and Internet gambling, Ashe reminded the DSB that his government has always maintained that the American prohibition was really based upon the cross-border nature of the services Antigua and Barbuda seeks to provide rather than any true ‘evils’ associated with ‘remote’ gambling — and the pending legislation in the US Congress confirms that we were correct.


Ashe concluded his statement with a call to the US to demonstrate that it is willing to be a responsible stakeholder in the WTO — whether the WTO agreements are to work for all of us, equally, or whether the WTO is indeed a ‘one-way street’ for the large economies to further enrich themselves at the expense of lesser ones. It is one thing to play by the rules on a purely literal basis, and quite another to play by the rules in order to attain the objectives the rules were designed to achieve.


Once the deadline expires on April 3, the US has to inform the WTO on the steps it has taken or will take to implement the recommendations and rulings adopted by the DSB in: United States — Measures Affecting the Cross-Border Supply of Gambling and Betting Services, as the dispute between the Antigua and Barbuda and the US is formally known.


Real Time Online Casino enters the Asian market


Real Time Gaming is launching RTG Asia to be based in Singapore, which aims to strengthen the company’s focus on the growing Asian market.


Daniel Schultz, Chief Executive and Chair of RTG Asia said, “The truth is, to become a serious player in the Asian market you have to immerse yourself entirely.”


Dr Finian Tan, Chairman of Vickers Financial Group, who are partners in the project said, “The principals in Vickers have in the past had good experiences in investing in the gaming industry. As a result, we like the space – especially given the consumer boom across Asia in the offline sector as witnessed by Macau’s successes and Singapore’s moves to enter the industry.”