Antigua, US continue Internet gaming talks

ST JOHN’S, Antigua, June 25, 2008 – Antigua and the United States are not giving up on reaching a compromise in their Internet gaming dispute, announcing that they would push back the deadline for reaching a settlement yet again and leave room open for the possibility of another extension. They will continue talks until July 11.

Antigua’s Finance Minister Errol Cort said the discussions would continue as long as both sides remained committed to reaching an agreement.

“Once we’re satisfied that there is meaningful dialogue and that the parties generally need an additional amount of time, then we will so agree,” he said. “So far we are very satisfied that the discussions and the dialogue have all been very fruitful and that we genuinely need further time to iron out certain specific issues and specific components of the proposed settlement.”

Antigua has accused the US of crippling its gambling industry by banning Americans from placing online bets with operators based outside US borders. A law passed by the US Congress in 2006 bars banks and credit card companies from processing payments to online gambling businesses outside the country, effectively blocking Antigua’s access to America’s multi-billion dollar gambling market.

In December last year, a World Trade Organisation (WTO) Dispute Settlement Body arbitrator awarded Antigua a settlement of US$21 million per year in trade sanctions as compensation, despite the country’s claim of a much more significant US$3.44 billion a year.

However, the two sides have been in talks to reach a compromise.