U.S. reps to get net gambling pitch in Antigua


The 12th Annual Caribbean Multinational Business Conference began in Antigua today and runs through Nov. 11, giving Antigua and Barbuda an opportunity to talk to some U.S. congressmen and -women in attendance about online gambling.

According to an Associated Press story, Antiguan authorities plan to raise the topic of their nation's battle with the United States over Internet gambling with the congressmen and -women at the conference and in private meetings with them.

Finance Minister Erroll Cort said the government also plans to invite the lawmakers on a tour of Antigua and Barbuda's Financial Services Regulatory Commission and some Internet gaming companies.

The nation's goal is to prove to the representatives that it does have the capacity to adequately regulate these gaming operations.

However, Donna Christensen, the nonvoting congressional delegate from the Virgin Islands who will be attending the conference, told the Associated Press that online gambling isn't expected to be the focus of the conference.

Instead, the conference is meant to promote business investment between the United States and the Caribbean nations.

Among the hundreds of delegates expected to attend are U.S. representatives Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.), Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) and Danny Davis (D-Ill.) and other members of the House.

Last year the United States further restricted online gambling in the nation by passing the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA), which barred American banks from processing online gambling transactions.

Antigua and Barbuda had already filed a complaint with the World Trade Organization about the online gambling restrictions. The United States was supposed to be changing its laws to fall in line with the WTO's trade regulations, and instead further restricted the industry.

Since then the WTO has ruled again that the United States isn't complying with the regulations. Instead of revoking the UIGEA, the United States has chosen to admit it isn't complying and to alter its agreement with the WTO to exclude online gambling.

This has opened the United States up to compensation claims from Antigua and Barbuda and any other WTO nations that think their online gambling sectors will be affected.

Antigua and Barbuda is already seeking $3.4 billion in trade sanctions. The United States made a counteroffer of $500,000, and the matter has been given to an arbitration panel to decide. The United States is also in negations with the European Union and other countries to determine compensation.

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