The long-running dispute between Antigua and Barbuda with the US – now into its 15th year – over online gaming, shows no signs of abating. The row between the two nations stems from the US government’s continued attempts to stop American citizens from gambling online using internet gaming sites based in Antigua and Barbuda. The archipelago fought the US through the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in 2003 and won the right to seek $21m per year on the grounds that the American law was discriminatory.
Since the ruling, however, there has been no money forthcoming from the US government. In a last ditch attempt to recoup some of the outstanding compensation, Antigua and Barbuda is turning to the director general of the WTO to intervene and appoint a mediator.
According to Antiguan ambassador Ronald Sanders, America’s unwillingness to pay up has cost his country circa $315m to date, equal to more than one quarter of its annual GDP. “After a long period of exhausting attempts to engage the United States, Antigua and Barbuda is now contemplating approaching the Director-General under the DSU [Dispute Settlement Understanding] provisions to join in seeking a mediated solution that would bring much needed relief after these arduous 15 years of damage to our economy,” he said.
He added: “Antigua and Barbuda has an obligation not only to itself, but to all other nations who uphold the principles and rules of the WTO and look to it for justice. We act in the interest of all.”
The US has argued in turn that Antigua and Barbuda’s demands are extreme and that it had made repeated offers to resolve the dispute, but with no successful outcome.