While the poker community in the United States is trying to legalize online poker by supporting the bill created by Senator Harry Reid, the islands of Antigua and Barbuda are opposing it.
This Caribbean nation is responsible for licensing several online poker sites and casinos and claims that the bill that was drafted by Kyle and Reid in such a manner so as to not just legalize online poker in the US but also to handicap the Internet gaming industry in Antigua.
Antigua is now seeking legal council on the subject and has taken their case to the WTO. According to Mark Mendel, who is the legal council to Antigua,
If they pass this legislation, we can go back to the World Trade Organization (WTO) and embarrass them even further. Work with us before this thing becomes law and figure this out and reach a settlement. … We want to work with you, we want to have a fair and reasonable settlement, and this is the perfect time to get it done.
Mendel also took the time to explain how the bill was carrying a clause that would completely block poker players from playing on offshore sites and offshore casinos would not be able to access US player traffic.“The way that they designed the bill is to get a license, you have to be a land-based casino operator already. There’s no way the Antiguans would able to get a license under this bill,” Mendel said. “What the bill says is that your servers and whatever else you need to physically run the business, it has to be located in the United States.”
However, the United States has decided not to support the ruling issued by the WTO and claimed that it was wrong. “The United States never intended to include Internet gaming of any kind within the scope of its commitments under the General Agreement for Trade in Services, and therefore, no World Trade Organization Member had any competitive expectation of access to the United States Internet gaming market.”
Antigua was completely against this opinion and commented on the draft legislation of Reid’s online poker bill as mentioned above by stating,
The wording of Sen. Kyl’s legislation misrepresents the facts. Given that the U.S. has been immersed in a trade dispute for the last decade with Antigua and Barbuda, the evidence is there for all to see that remote gaming was always at issue. This is nothing short of legislating historical fiction.
This strong opinion was voiced by none other than Antigua’s Minister of Finance and the Economy, Harold Lovell.