David and Goliath!

GENEVA -- As reported by the Washington Post: ``The World Trade Organization today said it will appoint a three-member panel to determine if U.S. efforts to crack down on offshore Internet gambling operations violate international trade accords.

``The WTO announcement comes in response to a challenge filed by Antigua and Barbuda, a Caribbean island nation that is a major nexus for the Internet gambling industry. U.S. laws that ban the transfer of funds to offshore gambling operations and make it difficult for non-U.S. firms to obtain gaming licenses violate trade agreements ensuring market access to 'cross-border services,' the complaint said.

``Internet gambling became a major part of Antigua and Barbuda's economy during the 1990s, when up to 100 different online gaming companies ...operated in the island nation. Today, there are fewer than 40 Internet gambling companies located on the islands employing half as many local residents. Island officials attribute the industry's decline in part to the U.S. crackdown.

``Antigua and Barbuda strictly regulates its online wagering industry, said chief foreign affairs representative Ronald M. Sanders. The U.S. policy is draining a significant source of the government's revenue, he said..."

Follow -Up 07/28/2003

David, {Antiqua and Barbuda}, has delivered the first blow to Goliath. In a decision reached this week, the World Trade Organization has ruled that the United States must appear before a W.T.O  panel to answer allegations that the current U.S. legislation is in violation of the General Agreement of Tariffs and Trades, (GATT), and is causing irreparable harm to the economy of Antiqua and it neighbors. 20 million dollars was noted as lost revenues just since the House passage of  HR 2143. Many of the tiny island's 5000 jobs were also reported to be in jeopardy as a direct result of the United States legislation.

The Antiqua charges state the U.S. legislation is unfair and discriminatory. Antiqua maintains that online gambling  is not unlawful, and can be fully regulated and monitored to ensure that all of the United States concerns are satisfactorily met.

Following the cue by the courageous Islanders, several other countries that had feared reprisal from the United States are preparing for action too. Amongst the aggrieved countries are the European Union and Taipei. 

Prime Minister Bird stated, "Once the panel meets, on the assumption that we win, then it will be a tremendous victory for Antigua & Barbuda and I can assure you that many other countries in the world will jump on the bandwagon."

It is becoming increasingly clear that the United States should join hands with the rest of world in accepting, and regulating the rapidly growing industry of online gambling.

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