Antigua & Barbuda overcame the US to win a
favourable ruling from the World Trade Organisation
(WTO) in the cross-border gaming dispute that has been
ongoing for well over a year.
This is the second victory over the US, with Antigua
& Barbuda succeeding in the WTO Disciplinary Panel
proceedings last year. The US appealed the ruling, but
failed to find favour with the WTO Appelate Body.
Speaking at a press conference at the Ministry of
Finance, a pleased but restrained Dr. Cort explained
that in the end, the US legal team was unable to
convince the Appellate Body that the Wire Act, the
Illegal Gambling Business Act and the Travel Act did not
discriminate against Antigua & Barbuda in the area
of Internet gaming.
These US laws, according to the minister of finance,
were created on moralistic grounds "to protect the US
public morals and maintain public order," but "the US
was not able to demonstrate that it acted in a manner
which did not discriminate against other persons coming
into its market."
Reading an extract from the "Finds and Conclusions'
of the 127-page report which was handed to Antiguan
officials early yesterday morning, Dr. Cort said, "The
Appellate Body recommends that the Dispute Settlement
Body request the United States to bring its measures,
found in this report and in the panel report as modified
by this report, to be inconsistent with the General
Agreement on Trade and Services into conformity with its
obligations under that agreement. So therefore the
Appellate Body is asking the US to bring its laws into
conformity based on the findings."
The next step will be the adoption of the report at
the dispute settlement body at a meeting slated for 19
"Once the report has been adopted Antigua &
Barbuda will then meet with the US to work out the
necessary modalities to ensure that compliance is met
with the ruling as found by the Appellate Body of the
WTO," the minister said.
Dr. Cort noted that the ruling clearly showed that a
small island state was able to "successfully challenge a
giant like the US.
"It says to all of us that this rules-based system is
working and we commend the WTO in respect of the
rules-based system of dispute resolution," he said.
Dr. Cort predicted that the ruling would help to
jump-start the industry into a "very vibrant and growing
Internet gaming sector." He further indicated that there
was "strong interest" received from gaming companies to
set up business in this jurisdiction.
"The immediate implication is that all those young
persons out there in the community who may wish to be
employed will find employment because we anticipate that
this sector will be growing in leaps and bounds."
Before the advent of the US laws, the sector employed
over 3,000 people, but it has dwindled to about 300.
When asked if he had heard a response from the US or
the other countries that had participated in the hearing
as third parties, Dr. Cort said he had not received
official word from them from either group, but
reiterated that "we have won and we will continue our
friendship (with the US), nevertheless this victory must
be adhered to and the US must abide by it."