Since 2003, the island nation of Antigua has been embroiled in a long-running dispute with the United States for barring Antigua’s licensed remote gaming operators from accepting US customers. Despite Antigua winning every World Trade Organization challenge, the US has refused to comply with the trade body’s 2007 final ruling to award Antigua $21m in annual damages.
Because of the US intransigence, the WTO granted Antigua leave to employ ‘countermeasures’, such as the right to suspend certain intellectual property rights equal to the amount owed by the US. To date, Antigua has not sought to impose these countermeasures, choosing instead to negotiate with the US Trade Representative in hopes of reaching a constructive resolution.
Earlier this week, rumors surfaced that these negotiations had produced a settlement. The confusion started when a member of the opposition Antigua Labour Party told a local radio station that the two nations had hammered out a deal that would see Antigua receive a one-off payment of $10m in exchange for outlawing the nation’s online gaming industry.
Harold Lovell, Antigua’s Finance Minister, has since denied any such deal had been made. “We have not accepted any offers that have been put on the table. Before we accept any offers…we would consult with the relevant parties here in Antigua and Barbuda. We’d want to see…what impact any such agreement would have, not only with respect to the operators but also on the economy of Antigua and Barbuda.”
Bodog Europe CEO Patrik Selin commenting on the situation, echoed Lovell’s statement.
“We were advised that the Minister’s dialogue with the US was ongoing and the licensees’ opinions and feedback were being actively sought to ensure that all stakeholder perspectives were heard. It is our understanding that unless and until the settlement discussions prove fruitless and the countermeasures are implemented, negotiations remain ongoing.
“Though Bodog Europe has no US-facing business, we remain committed to the economic interests of Antigua and Barbuda and the ongoing strength of the Financial Services Regulatory Commission. We were grateful to have the opportunity to discuss these matters directly with the Minister.”