For over 15 years, the battle on online gambling between Antigua and Barbuda, the tiny country from the Caribbean island, and the U.S.A. has been going on as if the authorities did not see anything.
However, things seem to take a different turn when Antigua issued an ultimatum, which according to international policymakers, is going to either worsen or bring to calm, the relationship between the two countries.
Antigua, which has been likened to the Biblical David fighting Goliath the giant, has vowed that unless the U.S. pays what is rightfully Antigua’s she will use all possible means to seek justice, which has been seen as the stone in David’s sling.
As was in the case of David and Goliath, the young defenseless boy won the battle.
Although Antigua is a small Caribbean country, it was the first to enact a reasonable online gambling framework. This happened back in 1994. During this time, the online gambling industry was in its fledgling stage.
In fact, it was until 1996 when the real-money bet was enacted in an online casino gambling exercise.
With the influx of online casinos, good benefits from the gambling proceeds, serious online gamblers, the need to invest in modern sophisticated technology and the need to expand, took many investors to the island nation of Antigua.
Statistics indicate that by the year 2000, Antigua had approximately 93 gambling casinos. All these online gambling centers turned in over $7 billion worth of revenue.
However, things could not go on smoothly for the licensees from the island nation. The U.S. conducted a online casino gambling crackdown, which targeted any online gambling casino in Antigua. After the crackdown, about 55 online casinos closed down their businesses.
By 2003, only about 20% of the casino licensees from Antigua remained in operation. A majority had to shut down their businesses.
WTO Landmark Ruling
After the islands appeal to the WTO, it was clear that the U.S. had a case to answer. In 2004, the World Trade Organization held that United States of America had violated an international agreement (GATS) whose aim is to remove any business blocks that was passed in 1995 by the WTO and signed by member states including U.S.A.
Because it was evident that the U.S. violated the treaty, where she is a member, WTO ruled that Antigua should be given a right to conduct her online gambling business in 2004 and three years later in 2007.
During the 2004 ruling, the U.S. was fined $21 million, which she was asked to pay Antigua. The fine has increased to over $250 million in 2017, but the U.S. does not want to acknowledge.
WTO also gave the island nation the right to download books, music, TV shows, and films free from the U.S.
Talk Time Is Over
According to Antigua PM, Gaston Browne, they have given dialogue enough time. Mr. Browne says that if the U.S. cannot pay what she owes Antiguans, by end of 2016, they will ensure that all that was ruled in her favor by WTO is met.