WTO decision delayed in Antigua case

Gotta Get that Paper, Dog
Antigua still waiting on compensation decision.

The online gambling world will have to wait a little longer to find out what the World Trade Organization arbitration panel decided to award Antigua and Barbuda in its case against the United States.

Gretchen Hamel, a spokesperson for the U.S. Trade Representative's office, told Reuters today that the report has been delayed. No official announcement has been made by the WTO yet.

Antigua and Barbuda had asked for $3.44 billion annually in compensation for the loss of the online gambling market from the United States. It is hoping to be able to ignore copyrights on music, movies and software from the United States in order to make copies and sell them worldwide.

The two-island Caribbean nation has been waiting a long time for a final judgment in its WTO case against the United States.

It first filed a complaint with the WTO in 2003 saying that the U.S. online gambling laws violated trade agreements made through the WTO. The WTO has since ruled more than once that the United States is violating trade rules and told the nation to come into compliance.

After the second ruling in 2006, instead of changing laws to comply, the United States actually passed a new law, the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, which further restricted online gambling in the nation.

In 2007, a WTO panel determined that the United States had failed to comply with its earlier rulings. The United States stopped fighting the case at that point, essentially admitting it wasn't in compliance, and then started the process to remove online gambling from its WTO trade agreements.

That allowed for Antigua and Barbuda to seek compensation for the loss of that market, and opened the United States up to claims from other countries with interests in the online gambling market.

After Antigua and Barbuda submitted a claim for $3.44 billion, the United States counteroffered with $500,000. When negotiations failed, the issue was given to a WTO arbitration panel to decide.

The European Union is also in negotiations with the United States to come to a compensation agreement. The deadline for their talks was also today, though no news has been released yet as to whether they reached an agreement.

If those talks don't lead to a consensus, the European Union could also request that a WTO arbitration panel decide the matter.

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