back to article American gamble or bluff: WTO members bet on Antigua

Antigua yesterday filed for formal trade sanctions against the United States, demanding $3.4 billion in compensation from the truculent, recalcitrant super power for failing to open its domestic market to remote gambling services. Antigua, as expected, was not alone; the hottest online gaming market in the world, the EU, also …


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  1. Greg Nelson

    Bully And Carry A Big Stick

    As a Canadian I followed the Canada/US trade dispute on softwood lumber. The methods of the US dispute on softwood lumber are very much like the article describes US methods in the gambling dispute. If the international bodies overseeing trade agreements find against the US the U.S. just refuses to comply. It recalls the attitude of the U.S. President who, when the U.S. Supreme Court found against him and his administration, said something to the effect of ... they've made their ruling now let's seem them enforce it. Teddy Roosevelt suggested a foreign policy centered around the idea of walking softly and carrying a big stick. Apparently the walk soft part has been put aside. As an outsider often these affairs are seen to be deeply impacted by the current Administration in Washington. President Bush is pretty much a lame duck President so maybe the various litigants will put things off until a new boss moves into the White House.

  2. Charles Griswold

    The Internet I Want

    "Do we want the freewheeling internet that characterized its early years, or a tightly regulated and controlled internet, subject to the prosecutorial whims of the administration of the day?"

    We (or at least I) want a freewheeling internet. There are, of course, things that should be illegal regardless of whether the internet is involved (like the canonical example of child pornography) , but gambling? Surely the DOJ can find better things to do with their time and my tax money.

    "Antigua thus could sell unlicensed copies of American movies or software, for example, to compensate itself for losses resulting from the American actions."

    If they do this on the internet, I can seriously see our illustrious Congress passing legislation that will effectively erect a "great firewall" between us and Antigua. Or maybe I'm just too cynical about the US government.

  3. Stephen

    The Good Ol' USofA...

    "Surely the DOJ can find better things to do with their time and my tax money."

    I agree with your overall point, however this is wrong... the USA makes a bucket full of money in tax by internalising the industry and preventing the international companies from acting within the remote gambling market... that's why they enacted the bill!

    It's easy to pick on the USA, they are the most powerful nation and thus attract the most attention... however it's also exceptionally difficult to understand how they get away with things they do. Several 'criminals' are still in prison as a result of running international online gambling companies... and yet in the USA online gambling companies still exist... and Vegas still has a strip.

    The argument that these laws were enacted to protect people from the dangers of addictive gambling and fraud are ludicrous beyond words... if there is such danger (and that is questionable) why is it still legal to gamble in huge number of Casino's in the US, and more over why is online purchasing of goods (more at risk from online fraud than online gambling is) still legal!?

    If this bill was so righteous and correct - why in hell did it get attached to the back end of the Port Security act and whipped through the houses without anyone even seeing it!?

    It's so easy to hate them (the administration, not the people) it can't be wrong... can it...?

  4. John

    The Great US Firewall

    Charles, the US may be blocked from buying cheap software from Antigua by a US firewall, but I don't see the same firewall appearing in Europe. Sitting here in Europe I rub my hands with glee at the thought of being able to buy a bunch of digital format films and music, and maybe even some software from Antigua as a means of slapping the US administration on the nose for its bully tactics.

  5. Ken Hagan Gold badge


    The thrust of the article is that it ain't just Antigua anymore. It seems unlikely that the US would firewall itself off from the rest of the world and even more improbable that it would be happy to lose the rights to its IP.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    In the great tradition of wannabe BOFH's

    (que the emotionally stirring music)

    Everyman is equal, all should be allowed access to gambling, drugs and hot vice... all at bargain rate (exc. special offers and no OAP discount!).

    We can then trawl our "honest" databases which has now become an every growing list of potential blackmail targets - only then can all B*rstards can truly prosper and take our place at the table of power!

  7. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  8. Gil Peeters

    Great Firewall of America

    Bring on "Star Wars III"!!

    Instead of intercepting ICBMs they would intercept and destroy any "fiber laying" trawlers or communications satellites capable of transferring illegal internet data into the U.S.

    U. S. A.! U. S. A.!



  9. Arnold Lieberman

    They're not the only ones

    See how the EU is holding African countries to ransom over trade deals and aid.

  10. Tim Schomer


    If the 'Great US Firewall' did end up in place, do you think 90% of Americans would even notice?

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Antigua torrent site

    The way I see it a torrent site based in Antigua, which focuses on USA content would do the trick. It's not storing US IP just pointing to it, but it gets the message across and is cheep to set up and dismantle once the US backs down as well as being in the spirit of the WTOs punitive actions.

    Perhaps hosted on the bookmakers own servers there who have been the focus of this outrage.

    Wasn't pirate bay (or whoever) looking for something like this?

  12. James Pickett


    "Or maybe I'm just too cynical about the US government."

    That seems unlikely, even if possible. As has already been noted, you can rely on America to do the right thing, but only after it has exhausted all the other possibilities...

  13. bill

    Yes, USA looks after it's own kidding.

    Is gambling a problem in the united States? Yes it is; we have created a society based on monetary gain, and the lure of that has created a market for gamblers, especially those with addictive personalities. Is that the root of the issue? Hell no, it is who can tax what?

    I think we can all agree that North America and it's allies don't always make the wisest decisions for the rest of the planet. (Too many pieces of evidence to even begin naming here.) But I ask you, when was it the USA's job to look out for a few wealthy men in Antigua? You think Ponce the Antiguan chicken farmer is the one that is going to benefit from free trade relations? No, it will be the Magistrates and the Lawyers that will be making the money. Do I give a damn about helping out the elite 5% of the Antiguan/Japanese/Bohamemian ruling class? Nope. Not a bit. Now if this debate was over grain, poultry, resources and human rights, we would have something to argue about. But alas it is a debate over a vice that clearly harms everyone but the business owners that run the sites, and for that I say: F&%^ them if vices are their main source of income. Look into manufacturing widgets, it worked for us!

  14. James

    Yes, USA looks after it's own kidding.

    "I think we can all agree that North America and it's allies don't always make the wisest decisions for the rest of the planet."

    I think that's harsh on Canada.

  15. Jim


    The type of service provided 'should' be irrelevent with regards to compliance with WTO rules. Morality has nothing to do with business and vice-versa.

  16. James

    Land of the Free

    I find it odd that the land of the free feels it is ok to restrict the choice of their citizens on where they are allowed to gamble. It's ok to gamble (in Vegas etc.), as long as foreign companies aren't making money out of it.

    Fast forward a few years and the US will yield to the pressure and once again allow internet gambling. Except this time it will be monopolised by US gambling companies. The US missed the boat when internet gambling took off and this is a good way to relaunch it on their own terms.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ah yes... international treaties

    Apparently they are all good and well as long as they unilaterally prefer the USA over the other partner(s)...

    But I think we should applaud the efforts that are made to protect the US-American population of the evil vice of online gambling. Someone in that administration is thinking of the children.

  18. Kevin Silver badge

    The People's Republic of Bush ignores rule of law

    Once more King George IV has decided to ignore the rule of law the has governed the former USA for centuries. No wonder over half the world hates Americans.

  19. Andy Bright

    Re: Yes, USA looks after it's own kidding.

    The problem is that America bans only international internet gambling. A number of states allow gambling within their borders, so you have a case of discriminatory sanctions by the US government.

    If they banned all gambling, domestic as well as international, Antigua would have no argument, America could justify it's actions on the basis that the ease of gambling via the internet enables addicts to blow mortgage payments, etc.

    What annoys me, despite not being American, is that often an elite few (our current Administration and members of Congress for example) have once again managed to tar the entire nation as bunch of retarded protectionists.

    Most Americans don't feel this way - evidenced by the huge number of companies that employ citizens from all over the world, and the huge number of (ok mostly ignorant - but definitely friendly) tourists that visit every corner of the globe.

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