As it was reported January, Antigua and Barbuda had filed a complain against the US at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) for breaching the terms of the General Agreement on Trade and Services (GATS) by banning online casinos operating from this Caribbean country to serve customers in the United States.
The WTO agreed, and penalizing America for its reluctance to comply, authorized Antigua to disregard certain US intellectual property protections. Although this may seem like a David versus Goliath victory, the real accomplishment would be for Antigua-based gambling operators to regain legal access to the American internet casino scene.
Impending changes in American gambling laws may in fact facilitate that outcome, according to a lawyer representing the island nation.
“Now that they are moving in that direction themselves, forcefully; that pretty much completely takes away their formal defence at the WTO,” said Mark Mendel, referring to Internet Gambling Regulation, Consumer Protection and Enforcement Act of 2013, submitted to the US Congress in June by Rep. Peter King.
The bill proposes to legalize not only American poker rooms, but various online casino games as well. Creating a clear framework on a federal level, while also grandfathering the existing state regulations, would indeed pull the rug from under the US legal position of opposing online gambling in general.
The push by Antigua is understandable, considering the profit potential in US online gambling. According to some analysts, by the end of the decade the online industry will be worth more than Las Vegas and Atlantic City brick-and-mortar gambling combined.