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Gaming division anticipates huge gains

Friday April 08 2005

by Eucelia Hill

The Internet gaming sector has registered its satisfaction at the final decision of the WTO Appellate Body, but said there are still some challenges ahead.

Director of Internet Gaming Kaye McDonald told reporters at yesterday's press conference at the Ministry of Finance that the decision handed down by the Appellate Body "marked the day Antigua has a voice and is really being heard" on the world stage.

Although she was careful to add that the report would need careful examination, McDonald said that there was an expected "windfall in licences based on the fact that we have won the appeal."

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She based her predications on the increase that was seen after the first ruling in early 2004 where licensees went up from 22 to 46.

"It is growing and we expect to have some real economic growth in this area so we can see what we used to enjoy in 1999 where it contributed about 10 per cent of the GDP," McDonald said.

The director noted however, that though a windfall was expected, "it will take some time."

In terms of implementation on the US side, she said it would take at least 15 months, for "the US will have to change their laws and abide by the Appellate Body ruling," and during this time both the Antigua & Barbuda and US sides would have to meet at the table to put "some real systematic measures in place so we can have market access."

Spokesperson for the Antigua & Barbuda Offshore Gaming Association (AOG) Ronald Maginley called the ruling "a significant and fantastic win" noting that many of the problems encountered by members of the AOG in gaining access to the US market could now be alleviated through "proactive negotiating.

"This is going to be the big challenge that we face now with the ruling which confirms Antigua & Barbuda's position.

"We now need to see how we can turn this into a very practical manner in terms of gaining access to the US market."

Another challenge he highlighted was enhancing the country's image, not only an attractive jurisdiction for licensing, but also for operation.

"The employment benefit does not accrue to Antigua & Barbuda unless people are operating from Antigua & Barbuda.

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