Antigua And Barbuda Take Offense To US Online Poker Bill
Antigua and Barbuda and the US have been locked in a legal dispute over online gambling for the past several years, and the tension between the two rose again this past week when Antigua denounced a bill making its way through the US Congress.
The bill would regulate online poker in the US, but it is the wording in the piece of legislation that has Antigua up in arms. The island nation claims that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's assertion that Caribbean islands have been illegally offering online poker to US citizens is false.
Antigua and Barbuda won a case in the World Trade Organization against the US in which the US government was ordered to pay hundreds of millions of dollars in damages stemming from the country's illegal targeting of Antigua as an illegal place where US online poker players were enjoying their hobby. Antigua asserted that their online poker sites are regulated, and that the US violated trade agreements by restricting the sites from accepting US players.
The legal tension has grown over the years, as the US has refused to honor the WTO ruling. Antigua is still awaiting payment for that ruling, and regulated online poker in the US at a federal level would be a big blow to the online gambling industry in Antigua.
"If they (US) pass this legislation, we can go back to the WTO and embarrass them even further," said Mark Mendel, a legal advisor to Antigua. "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 resonable settlement, and this is the time to get it done."
Antigua is willing to negotiate a settlement with the US in order to collect. They understand that right now, the US is in no hurry to hand over any money, and agreeing to a lesser settlement than what has already been suggested would, in the eyes of the island, at least bring closure to the situation.
The US has been dealing with an online gambling explosion since last December when the Department of Justice overturned their long-standing opinion about online gambling. The DoJ announced that only sports betting is illegal under the 1961 Wire Act. That left dozens of state lawmakers scurrying to pass online gambling regulation laws. To date, only Delaware and Nevada have passed such laws, with New Jersey and several other states on the brink of doing the same.
October 31, 2012
Posted By Terry Goodwin
Staff Editor, CasinoGamblingWeb.com