David Gambles Against Goliath

Small country with big determination in online gambling.

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Antigua, Barbuda, threatening U.S. copyright battle over online gambling dispute

The long running dispute between the tiny country of Antigua and Barbuda and its slightly larger neighbor – the United States – has taken an interesting turn.

For years the small island nation has been insisting on making its online casinos open to US citizens. The US has been similarly adamant that this constitutes cross-border gambling, which is illegal according to the interpretation of US gambling laws.

The United States, a fervent proponent of free global trade (when it suits its own interests) has nevertheless suffered a series of defeats whenever the issue was brought before the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Antigua and Barbuda is not apologetic about the developments the least bit. As Carl Roberts, Antigua’s high commissioner to London said: “We have followed the rules and procedures of the WTO to the letter. Our little country is doing precisely what it has earned the right to do under international agreements.”

Moreover, Antiguans have now proposed a new move to compensate for the revenues that have been lost due the exclusion of Americans from Antiguan poker rooms. What they have suggested is that American goods would no longer be afforded intellectual property protections in Antigua and Barbuda.

America cries piracy, but again, the WTO disagrees. On Monday the organization approved the broad outlines of the proposal. Details are yet unclear, but the establishment of a so-called “copyright haven” could see free or extremely cheap online access to music or movies. And it would apply only to the country’s 89,000 inhabitants – theoretically.

The practice may look much different, which is one of the reasons why the US is upset. The Antiguan government, however, has made it clear that it does not insist on carrying the plan all the way to execution.

What the country really wants is the same thing it has wanted all along: legal access for US citizens to play online casinos in Antigua.

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