It is just "a matter of time" before the US will have
to bow to international pressures concerning its
position on ruling of the Appellate Body of the World
Trade Organisation on Internet gaming.
This was the word from Minister of Finance and the
Economy Dr. Errol Cort in an interview with the SUN
yesterday. He indicated that the US, despite its
interpretation of the recent ruling, would be forced to
liberalise its Internet gaming industry due to pressures
from other developed countries and based on the findings
of the appellate body.
Dr. Cort was rebutting claims by the US Trade
Representative (USTR) who stated that the ruling of the
WTO Appellate body was "a win in their favour" and
required little change in US gaming laws.
According to a release from the US Trade
Representative, "US Internet Gaming Restrictions can
stand as US wins key issues in WTO dispute" dated 7th
April, Acting US Trade Representative Peter F. Allgeier
stated, "This win confirms what we knew from the start -
WTO members are entitled to maintain restrictions on
The USTR interpretation of the ruling also maintains
that the US would only need to "clarify one narrow issue
concerning Internet gambling on horse racing. USTR will
be exploring possible avenues for addressing this
finding. USTR will not ask Congress to weaken US
restriction on internet gambling."
Despite this view, Dr. Cort maintained that the
ruling was Antigua & Barbuda's win because the key
issue of the US" discriminatory practices against other
countries was clearly established.
Reading the last paragraph of the Findings and
Conclusion of the ruling, which clearly stated, "The
Appellate Body recommends that the Dispute Settlement
Body request the US to bring its measures into
conformity with its obligations under that agreement,"
Dr. Cort explained that the main plank of the US"
argument was that it never agreed to trade gambling
services as part of the GATS and as a result, could
manage it as it saw fit. This it did through though
discriminatory laws such as the Wire Act, Illegal
Gambling Business Act and the Travel Act.
"The Appellate Body found otherwise. Gaming was
offered as a trading commodity. So this is a major
victory for Antigua because they ruled that gaming
cannot be discriminated against," Dr. Cort said.
Another plank of the US argument stated that the US"
had right to restrict the gaming industry on moralistic
To this Dr. Cort said, "If they are saying that
gambling is a bad thing based on moralistic arguments,
therefore they cannot allow their own people to engage
in domestic gambling at the disadvantage of non-US
"No one is saying that the US cannot restrict gaming,
but it cannot be restricted in a discriminatory manner.
As Mark Mendel said, the ruling gives the US a second
option: if they want to maintain their present position,
the US has to make gaming illegal in their own country.
"The question is will the US legislate against its
own people. Absolutely not and not allowing Antigua
& Barbuda access to their market is discriminatory,"