The current online poker bill that Congress is working on is being strongly opposed by the regions of Antigua and Barbuda who thrive on gambling revenue.
According to Mark Mendel, a legal representative of Antigua, “There’s no way the Antiguans would be able to get a license under this bill.”
Harold Lovell, Antigua and Barbuda’s minister of finance and the economy, commented that the poker bill was “nothing short of legislating historical fiction.”
Antigua and Barbuda began seeking legal action with the help of the World Trade Organization and had won their case with the WTO stating that the bill violated trade rights. However, despite talks and the ruling from the WTO there appears to be not enough changes introduced to satisfy all involved.
Harold Lovell commented: “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.
We are encouraged to have a time frame adopted by the U.S., which continues to stonewall all efforts by the government of Antigua and Barbuda to resolve this dispute. However, good faith negotiation requires much more adherence to international law than this legislation is offering…It would seem to us that a settlement prior to adoption of legislation, which then incorporated the terms of the settlement, would be the wiser and more appropriate course of action
In response to this, Kristen Orthman, who is the spokesperson for Reid, made it clear that the bill was still being drafted.
The bill that has been leaked is just a draft and is a premature version of the online poker legislation. We continue to work with all stakeholders to address concerns. The US government is actively engaged at high levels with the government of Antigua to find a way to amicably resolve the trade dispute in a mutually beneficial manner.
Even W. Baldwin Spencer chose to speak up on behalf of the situation, “Antigua and Barbuda’s Internet gaming sector has been decimated by the actions of the United States and we believe that we must be fairly compensated for those losses.” Spencer who is the prime minister of Antigua and Barbuda, recently met Ron Kirk, the U.S. trade representative, in hopes to resolve the matter.
Kirk responded diplomatically and stated, “The United States remained committed to working with Antigua and Barbuda in finding a solution to the case.”