Antigua Barbuda encouraged by new U.S. bill

With a World Trade Organization ruling already on its side, Antigua and Barbuda may be finally seeing an end to their fight with the United States over online gambling. An official from the island praised a new bill that could lift the online gambling ban in the United States.

"While we have not yet seen the legislation," said Errol Cort, Antigua minister of finance and economy, in the Caribbean Net News, "we are encouraged that such a prominent legislator in the United States has stepped forward in support of a rational approach to the provision of remote gaming services."

Cort's remarks follow quickly on the heals of Rep. Barney Frank's introduction of H.R. 2046, the Internet Gambling Regulation and Enforcement Act of 2007 (IGREA), Thursday.

The new bill seeks to establish a federal regulatory and enforcement framework to license online gambling companies in the United States. This would lift the current ban imposed on online gambling.

Antigua and Barbuda, which is home to dozens of online casino and poker sites, has been fighting to open up the U.S. online gambling market since filing a complaint with the World Trade Organization in 2003.

The WTO did find that the United States was violating trade agreements by banning certain types of online gambling but allowing other types to continue.

That ruling was upheld again in a ruling in March after Antigua and Barbuda asked the WTO to investigate whether or not the United States had complied.

The two nations had been unable to come to a compromise on the issue to resolve the online gambling issue, and in the meantime, the United States had passed the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, further tightening its ban.

If the United States doesn't comply with the WTO's ruling, it could face sanctions from other nations including Canada, Japan, Mexico, China and European Communities who all lent their support to Antigua and Barbuda.

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