Antigua update, Jay Cohen will speak

The ecommerce times has a great recap of Antigua’s WTO case, which is the subject of my panel at G2E:

The U.S. government decided recently to negotiate with, rather than litigate against, the Caribbean islands of Antigua and Barbuda (both referred to as Antigua) over the issue of online gaming. This decision came about after the U.S. lost an arbitration proceeding under the trade dispute resolution process of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in March.

The arbitration arose out of a complaint by Antigua to the WTO in the aftermath of a U.S. move in 1998 to fight Internet gambling by bringing charges against Jay Cohen, an American then living in Antigua.

In the wake of Cohen’s conviction, the government of Antigua filed a complaint against the U.S. at the WTO and claimed that the U.S. was not recognizing its own global trade commitments.

Specifically, Antigua alleged that the position held by the U.S. that gambling and betting services provided by operators in Antigua to persons located in the United States is illegal was in violation of American commitments under the General Agreement on Trade in Services (the GATS). The U.S. countered by arguing that the provision of gambling and betting services to the U.S. was not a part of its commitments under GATS.

A WTO arbitration panel upheld the complaint by Antigua. The panel found that Internet gambling restrictions imposed by the U.S. did, in fact, violate U.S. commitments under GATS. The panel also rejected Washington’s defense that the United States never intended to include gambling services under GATS.

Estimates are that there are 1,800 Internet gambling operations, and almost all of them are outside the United States. One estimate is that the global Internet gaming market will grow from US$10 billion in 2002 to $14.5 billion in 2006.

With figures such as these, it is no wonder that a number of countries are joining the online gambling business as opposed to trying to fight it — for example, earlier this year, the Philippines government authorized the set-up of an online casino, which will pay half its earnings to the Philippines government.

Internet Gambling — Regulate or Litigate?

If you are interested in this issue, you should definitely attend my panel session at the Global Gaming Expo, “Legal Limbo: How the Wire Act Impacts Online Gambling.”

Jay Cohen will be appearing in public for the first time since his release from prison, and will definitely have many things to say about the Wire Act. Bob Blumenfeld, an attorney for Antigua in the WTO case, will speak to the legal challenges raised by Antigua. All in all, it should be a very dynamic presentation, and a good thing to do on Wednesday, October 6 from 3 to 4.

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