Would A $100 Billion Fine Get The US To Pay Attention To Antigua's WTO Win?

from the your-attention-please... dept

We’ve covered the long and detailed saga of Antigua fighting the US via the WTO, but the short summary is this: Antigua claims that the US is violating a free trade agreement in banning online gambling (many online gambling firms are in Antigua). The WTO agreed with Antigua and the US proceeded to ignore the ruling. The WTO again sided with Antigua… and the US pretended the WTO had sided with the US… and again ignored the ruling. This has happened a few more times, with the US eventually unilaterally changing the terms of the free trade agreement — which didn’t satisfy either the WTO or Antigua. Of course, with Antigua being such a small country there has been little in the way of ramifications for the US for ignoring the ruling. That’s why Antigua is now pushing for the right to ignore US copyrights and patents as a remedy. However, there may be an even more persuasive remedy. Back over the summer, the EU indicated that it might start siding with Antigua in the dispute — and it’s a lot more difficult for the US to simply ignore the EU. To make the situation even more fun, the latest news is that gambling firms in the EU are pushing for $100 billion in damages from the US. That’s certainly an unlikely number, but it’s going to get plenty of attention either way. If the EU (and Japan, apparently) really do take Antigua’s side in this, the US may finally be forced to acknowledge that it lost. However, it still seems quite unlikely that it will stop the ban on online gambling any time soon.

Filed Under: , ,

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Would A $100 Billion Fine Get The US To Pay Attention To Antigua's WTO Win?”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
TheDock22 says:


If the EU (and Japan, apparently) really do take Antigua’s side in this, the US may finally be forced to acknowledge that it lost. However, it still seems quite unlikely that it will stop the ban on online gambling any time soon.

And what are they going to do if we ignore them again? Declare war? These countries seem to forget the number of times the US has helped bail them out of bad situations. Let them whine because they can’t do much more than that.

Hirohito says:

Re: Nah

And what are they going to do if we ignore them again? Declare war? These countries seem to forget the number of times the US has helped bail them out of bad situations.

Yeah you really bailed out Japan by helping them rebuild after some asshole nation dropped atomic bombs on their cities. Who was that again? Iran? North Korea? Soviet Union? Nazi Germany? Oh that’s right, there’s only one nation on earth that’s ever used atomic weapons in war, The United States (God bless the U. S. of A).

Anonymous of Course says:

Re: Re: Nah

Try setting you loathing of the USA aside for
a moment and looking at it in the proper
historical context.

Dropping the atomic bomb saved more lives than
it took. One of the most striking moments in
the book Hiroshima (written by a survivor) is
the people being brought to tears by the emperor
of Japan announcing the surrender.

It was a brutal act, but it was the right thing
to do at the time. Japan wasn’t going to surrender
and the estimated loss of lives (on both sides)
required for the invasion of Japan was staggering.

If you don’t see the differences between the USA
and Iran, North Korea, Soviet Union and Nazi Germany,
visit http://www.democide.com Also by invoking the Nazi
on teh intarwebs you’re immediately branded as a saliva dripping rabid moonbat… justly so.

Frankly, if you offer someone aid, you shouldn’t
expect anything in return. So I don’t support that

I still don’t see how gambling is construed as a
protected form of trade and not narcotics, or what
have you. If it’s illegal in the USA they should
have a right to prevent others from providing it
within their borders. Regardless of the method
of delivery.

I don’t think non-state sanctioned gambling should
be illegal but that’s another issue.


Re: Re: Re: Nah

Online gambling is not illegal in the U.S. – but funding it is. The U.S. outlawed companies transferring money to be used in online gambling, that’s the real issue here. It’s not comparable to drugs because drugs are illegal, not just the sale. Just to recap, you can legally gamble online but it is illegal for a company to transfer your money into an online gambling account.

TheDock22 says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Nah

Online gambling is not illegal in the U.S. – but funding it is.

From what I hear if a certain form of gambling is illegal in your state, then it is illegal to do online. So if I go online to play Blackjack I could be fined because Blackjack is illegal in my state.

But I have also heard that it is the act of transferring money into your gambling account that is the illegal part (from banks or any source). Does anyone know for sure what the actual law says concerning online gambling?

norman619 (profile) says:

Re: Nah

LOL!!! you are priceless. Helping them at various points in the past has nothing to do with the matter at hand. The US expects others to abide by the WTO rules but when the US is expected to do the same the US chooses to ignore the rules? I sure hope you don’t have any kids. I hope Antigua opts to become the new haven for content pirates. It’s understandable why many nations dislike the US. We like to enforce the rules but we sure don’t like to follow them.

TheDock22 says:

Re: Re: Nah

The US expects others to abide by the WTO rules but when the US is expected to do the same the US chooses to ignore the rules?

How is online gambling part of any agreement we signed with the WTO? Gambling is outlawed in many forms around the US and the government has the right to outlaw online gambling. It’s illegal to begin with, but the WTO is stepping in and saying we have to make it legal? Why?

Does that mean we suddenly have to declare drugs legal just because Columbia takes it’s case to the WTO? The WTO shouldn’t even be involved since it is a law passed in our country to extend something that was already illegal in the first place. Gambling for the most part is illegal in some forms in certain states, but these gambling websites don’t take this into accounts (i.e. black jack and most table games). We have the right in our country to outlaw something and not fear retribution from some organization like the WTO.

As for WWII and the bombing of Japan…They were killing our troops and performing unspeakable crimes on our POW citizens. We asked for surrender many times and they ignored us. It was a sad recourse in history, but I doubt anyone in the US realized the nuke would not only kill the initial people, but continue to poison the survivors. I think we grossly underestimated the amount of damage the bombs would do and have since felt remorse for the decision.

TheDock22 says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Nah

If you bothered to read up on the dispute between the US and Antigua you’d already know. Many of the other people here seem to understand.

Not really since they are saying we outlaw online gambling only from other countries when in fact we outlaw it period. The WTO need to realize online gambling and domestic gambling are two completely different things.

Ja says:

Actually – the EU and Japan can do quite a bit here. They’ll be allowed to raise tarrifs to recoup the losses. That’ll negate the beneficial effects the fall of the dollar against the Euro has had on US exports. If the EU and Japan choose which items to hit with these tarrifs, it can do a LOT of damage to the US economy. At a time when the US economy doesn’t really need it….

Anonymous Coward says:

Um – nothing? Why should it.

“Hey – we helped you out, so now we can ignore a treaty we signed and agreed to abide by, and you can’t say anything!” – what’s up with that?

And I’d say that the EU and Japan have paid back the US for that help by now. Or should the French claim the same of the US for the help given the Continental Army in the War of Independence?

“Washington – we helped you against the British back in 1776: please start licking our feet.”

shmengie says:

here’s the u.s., again, pushing it’s (bullshit) morality on the rest of the world. i hope we do lose a $100,000,000,000 suit. we deserve to lose. does our government really think online gambling is more harmful than killing its’ young men and women in the middle east?

most of the time, i’m pretty fucking embarrassed to be an american.

poophead says:

Re: shmengie

Please move to another country if you are embarassed to be an American. You should lose your citizenship to the next illegal Mexican who is proud to be here and loves American ideals and history. This isn’t about us pushing our morality on anyone, it is about a ban which is only effective in this country. We have the right to control gambling in our country through bans, and this should not be treated as a product or service that the WTO has jurisdiction over in terms of international “trade”. The other posters have made some intelligent contributions that somewhat make up for your intellectually vacant comments. The EU and Japan have recourse in terms of tarrif adjustment. But of course we can do the same to them. In the end, they probably wouldn’t want to effect bilateral trade between US-EU and US-Japan over a dispute concerning tiny Antigua. Nothing against Antigua, just being factual: it isn’t incredibly significant to any above mentioned parties’ interests.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: shmengie

Please move to another country if you are embarassed to be an American. You should lose your citizenship to the next illegal Mexican who is proud to be here and loves American ideals and history.

Yes! screw the first amendment! anyone who doesn’t like the US or tries to criticize it loses their citizenship to an immigrant who is also not allowed to criticize the US or else!


BTR1701 (profile) says:

Re: Re: shmengie

> You should lose your citizenship to the
> next illegal Mexican who is proud to be
> here and loves American ideals and history.

Good luck finding one of those. Most of them can’t even speak English, let alone give you a rundown on American history. They’re only in America for a paycheck (which they promptly send back to Mexico), nothing more.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: shmengie

“Most of them can’t even speak English”

Well, most Mexicans in the US speak English and Spanish, while most US Americans speak only English. It is this lack of education that makes it so easy for US companies to outsource your job in the US to countries where people speak more than one language, comprehend natural sciences including concepts like evolution, respect other people and their property, and aren’t so fat around the waist and brain.

Anonymous of course says:

Re: Re: Re:2 shmengie

Yes, it’s the highly educated mexican workers
that lure the corporations to send production
line jobs sent south of the border.

Because, large corporations actively seek
workers snapping two widgets together on
a slide line that comprehend the natural

Paying them eighty percent lower wages is
just a happy consequence of that concern

You’re a pathetic failure as a troll.

Or as we say in America “Grow a brain moran.”

BTR1701 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 shmengie

> Well, most Mexicans in the US speak English and Spanish

Not in my experience. I can’t even order fast food here in Northern Virginia half the time because the person at the counter can’t understand me.

> It is this lack of education that makes it so easy for US
> companies to outsource your job in the US

LOL! No, my job is not going to be outsourced anywhere. It can’t be. That would violate federal law.

Anonymous Cowherd says:

Re: Re: Re:

You mean other than what he just said?

I love how people on the *anonymous* internet can get so pious towards folks who actually don’t try to hide their anonymity.

You discredit *everything* he says because of his anonymity?

Let’s have it then. Your real name and address. Otherwise, you’re not only just another “anonymous coward”, you’re one that tries pitifully to hide that fact.

norman619 (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Nice way of avoiding the issue at hand. The US agreed to follow WTO rules as part of membership. All this other BS has noting to do with the fact that the US simply does not want to follow the rules it agreed to. You are gonna teach your kids it’s ok to go back on your word if you helped the person you gave your word to in the past? How old are you? 12?

Chuck says:

Re: Re: History

And the US stepped in and took over in Vietnam causing the US to take the hit.

It has nothing to do with who owes who favors. It has to do with what is right.

US law says online gambling is illegal. In order to enforce the law, the US felt it necessary to stop the transfer of money from US banks to known offshore gambling locations, in this case, Antigua.

The US is a member of the WTO and has agreed to abide by its rulings. The WTO agreed with Antiguas claim that the US violated trade agreements. The US ignored, repeatedly, the WTO rulings.

Those are the generalities of the situation. Argue on those and not who saved who in some bygone war because that just adds more points that no one can agree on.

And argue doesn’t mean flame, whine or going off on uncomprehensible tangents. It means to debate the facts (which is a pipe dream in itself due to no one being able to agree on the facts).

Falindraun says:


Time and time again the US will continue to do whatever the heck it wants to do. Does that mean its always the right decision? No. Does that mean its always the wrong decision? No. In life there are good decisions and bad ones. Its just the US has the power and a big enough ego to ignore the ruling. To the US ignoring it is the easy way out, even if they do fess up and pay the fine. Who do you think is going to pay that fine? We are through increased taxes when taxes are high enough already (and don’t tell me they aren’t, cause they are). The end result is that the US will continue to ignore everything that doesn’t meet its standards, and again do whatever they want.

RandomThoughts (user link) says:

Norman619, its not that we like to enforce the rules, its that we like to make the rules.

Fact is, we are a superpower. You don’t mess with a superpower. I would consider China to be a superpower also. If China would drive its tanks over its citizens again, what do you think we would do about it? Not attend the olympics? Talk bad about them in the media? Talk about limiting their imports?

We could walk in and wipe out Antigua and there really isn’t a whole lot anyone could do about it. I am not saying we will or should, but that is a fact.

Life isn’t fair. We have the bomb and Iran doesn’t. Guess what, the US and a few other countries (that also have the bomb) won’t let them get it.

Everything else is just talk.

Anonymous Coward says:

here’s the u.s., again, pushing it’s (bullshit) morality on the rest of the world

What morality? They didn’t outlaw ALL gambling, there’s still lots of “approved” gambling. If it was a moral issue they’d have outlawed all of gambling.

While they may have phrased the passage of the law as “morality” it most certainly was anything but morality that they were pushing.

RandomThoughts (user link) says:

Norman, no need to be rude. I am not 12, just realistic.

The US believes that online gambling should not be allowed. Why should the US govt allow the WTO to override our laws of the land.

If a country were to allow child porn, would the WTO force the US to allow that also?

Following the rules? Can I import booze into Saudi Arabia? No, it is outlawed there. Why can’t the US prevent online gambling?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Read the Constitution much?

Article VI
Clause 2: This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.

So unless a U.S. judge rules the WTO and our free trade agreement with Antigua to be unconstitutional, such treaties have the same weight as the constitution.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Why the US is stupid on this one.

IF the US wants to make a law and punish it’s own that is it’s problem. What the US did however was arrest someone who was doing legal business in a foreign land. It is like going to Saudi Arabia and having them arrest you because you had a beer in the US. The US is stupid and run by jerks at this time. Bush’s department of Justice is out of control.

They have no concept of ethical behavior. They can’t set any kind of example where the US treats others as they would have them selfs be treated.

A. L. Flanagan (profile) says:

Hating America

Anonymous Coward said
>> Why do so many of you hate America?

It is not “hating America” to state the US’s actions in this case are embarrassing and hypocritical. We’re (meaning of course the Bush administration) acting like one set of rules applies to the entire rest of the world, but not to us. Did I leave out “arrogant”?

Don’t forget that we’ve been major backers of the WTO treaties we’re ignoring here. And, of course, we’re invoking them whenever a trade issue is not going our way.

Mark Murphy says:


@RandomThoughts: The WTO isn’t overriding the laws of the land. The US is welcome to restrict trade however it wants. However, if the U.S. is a party to a treaty organization (e.g., WTO) and if the U.S. violates the terms of that treaty, then the treaty organization members can take retribution per the terms of the treaty.

To quote the linked article: “The high profile prosecution led the Antiguan authorities to file a formal complaint with the W.T.O., because the U.S. continued to allow US companies to offer various forms of remote domestic gambling while aggressively prosecuting Antiguan companies under legislation originally drafted to fight the mob.”

Apparently, the treaty underlying the W.T.O. — a treaty the U.S. signed — prevents selective enforcement of laws to benefit domestic firms at the expense of foreign firms.

To quote another article: “In essence, if the United States was going to say that ‘remote’ gambling was so bad that it was necessary to prohibit it across the board, then it indeed needed to be consistent about that, and not use the claim as a way to discriminate against foreign trade…The United States has a wide variety of legal, domestic-only remote gambling operating currently…Further, something that so many people have not realised but this last panel finally got right, and that is that federal law doesn’t prohibit remote gambling at all – just remote gambling that crosses a state or international border.”

So, to use your example of child porn, if the U.S. enforces its child porn laws with roughly equal zeal for both domestic distributors and foreign distributors, they could probably fight off an attempt by some other nation to have sanctions placed because of interference with the trade of child porn.

Similarly, with your example of alcohol and Saudi Arabia, if Saudi Arabia enforces its anti-alcohol laws equally between Saudis and foreign nationals, the U.S. probably wouldn’t be able to have sanctions placed on Saudi Arabia for interference in the sale of alcohol.

If the U.S. doesn’t want to be subject to the terms of international treaties, it simply has to stop signing them. It can’t sign them and then ignore them, any more than I can sign a mortgage and then not make my monthly payments.

Bill says:

Mark Murphy's post

Great post! Something that struck me as funny though, “It can’t sign them and then ignore them, any more than I can sign a mortgage and then not make my monthly payments.”

Yes, but the government does exactly that with our mounting trade deficit. (9 trillion and growing…)

Evidently, American’s aren’t even supposed to view gambling ads anymore…as the site below states.

Victor Mess says:


The last time a country violated something that the US wanted they ended up going to war against that country. Now how fair would it be for Antigua to bomb Florida because the US is infringing on Antiguan interests, they have weapons of mass destruction, they imprison millions of american people and the WTO has told them to allow (free) american citizens to gamble in Antigua online if they want too. How the tables turn.

TheDock22 says:

Re: Violation

The last time a country violated something that the US wanted they ended up going to war against that country.

Yes…the war had everything to do with oil and not one bit to do with the fact that Saddam Hussein was alienating and killing his citizens based on their beliefs, that they were harboring a terrorist who killed thousands of Americans, and also continually lied to us and prevented the UN from performing proper checks for dangerous weapons….

Anonymous of Course says:

Re: Violation

Your spurious, simplistic argument is tedious,
unimaginative, unconvincing and boring. It is
a failed rant, cut and pasted from other failed

The only thing I dislike more than the Iraq war
are the paper thin intellects that bring it up
no matter what issue regarding the USA is the
topic of discussion.

P.S Did you read about the Syrian technicians
that died recently while trying to load a VX agent
warhead onto one of their missiles? Terrible loss,
but I’m sure it was done in the name of science.

David Sternlight (user link) says:

Re: Re: Violation

Shame on you for infringing on the sovereignty of the peace-loving Syrian people, who were developing VX and mustard gas purely for peaceful domestic use. You’ll be sorry when the Mahdi comes and we’re all enjoying our Liberation Hummus.

“But I don’t like Hummus”.

“Comrade, comes the Liberation, we’ll ALL eat Hummus.”

RandomThoughts (user link) says:

Dock, I agree.

Now, back to the issue at point.

It really is pretty simple. The US doesn’t allow Internet gambling. It does allow physical gambling. The WTO decided that we should allow Internet gambling and since we don’t, want to do something about it.

The question is should we allow a foreign governing body dictate what our domestic laws are?

DCX2 says:

Re: Re:

The question is should we allow a foreign governing body dictate what our domestic laws are?

When the US signs the treaty to be a part of this foreign governing body, yes, it should dictate our domestic laws.

So, you’re asking the wrong question. I believe what you intended to ask is “should we allow the treaties that we have signed to dictate what our domestic laws are?”

I think you can find the answer in article VI of the Constitution.

Mark Murphy says:

Remote vs. online gambling

@RandomThoughts: I don’t know if it was Antigua or the W.T.O. who raised it, but the complaint appears to stem around “remote” gambling, not “online” gambling. The U.S. does restrict online gambling (albeit possibly with varying enforcement levels, but that’s a separate issue). However, the U.S. does allow other forms of gambling without a physical presence, such as:

— You don’t have to be at a horse racing track to bet on horse races, courtesy of off-track betting (O.T.B.) parlors. I seem to recall various state-level initiatives to allow telephone-based O.T.B., though I don’t follow horse racing and don’t know how far along that got. As far as I know, O.T.B. even lets you bet across state lines, on races held elsewhere in the country.

— You don’t have to be at the facility where lottery numbers are drawn to participate in a lottery.

Antigua basically then had a two-tier defense against a U.S. “morals” claim:

1. The U.S. can’t be morally against gambling, since it has state-sponsored gambling (lotteries)

2. The U.S. can’t be against remote gambling, since it has state-regulated remote gambling (lotteries, horse racing), and there’s no logical difference between remote gambling by visiting a Quik-E-Mart (lotteries) and remote gambling by computer.

In reality, there are differences, such as an easier time enforcing age restrictions on gambling at Quik-E-Marts, but they apparently weren’t enough, or the US didn’t invest much in a defense at the W.T.O. hearings. I get the sense that the U.S. pretty much ignored the whole W.T.O. mess — either we need to live up to our international obligations (and possibly work to change the W.T.O.’s procedures and policies to avoid this issue in the future), or we need to withdraw from the W.T.O. The former takes work, the latter has financial and political ramifications.

TheDock22 says:

Re: Remote vs. online gambling

Hmm…well that makes some sense, but I still do not think online gambling is related to remote gambling because of the medium. Still the remote gambling requires a physical presence somewhere along the way, whether that is buying the tickets at the Quik-E-Mart or place a bet with your bookie. Online gambling does not have that sort of interaction. I think the US needs to specify that online gambling is definitely outlawed and not related to remote gambling.

PTTG says:

Bah! Just wait 20 years

In 10-20 years oil production will be a fraction of what it is now and demand will have skyrocketed due to China and India industrializing and so prices will jump up to, by conservative estimate, more than 10 fold. Prices for food and anything else transported by truck or boat, or things made from oil will jump as well. The world economy, fragile as it is, will implode, and we at least won’t have to worry about Copyright laws anymore.

Old Guy says:

Broken Treaties!!!

1. I Love my country
2. The government sucks
3. The GOVernment (and this true of most not just the US) has only abide by them until the become inconvenient. Oops except the ones that get us into wars. Funny how that works.
Couple quotes for you:

“Treaties, you see, are like girls and roses; they last while they last.” – Charles de Gaulle (never thought I’d quote a frenchman, Oh wait Voltaire was a frenchmen)

Treaties are made by statesman.
“Now I know what a statesman is; he’s a dead politician. We need more statesmen.” – Bob Edwards

I'm not playing with you anymore... says:

Do as I say not as I do

Go Antigua….
It’s about time other countries start turning ‘Free Trade’ back on the U.S. ‘Free Trade’ agreements seem to be weighted in the U.S’s favour. – give us access to your markets while we protect and subsidise our own. eg farmer subsidies in the U.S. Not to mention the fact that some of the agreements allow companies to sue countries if the countries environmental laws prevent the said companies from doing what they want. U.S. I think you might say is being ‘Hoisted by it’s own petard’


mscsrrr.stumbleupon.com, (On $100 Billion Fine Get (user link) says:

Would A $100 Billion Fine Get The US To Pay Attent

Can anyone please explain to me why offline casino and gambling are legal but internet casino and gambling are illegal?

Why is online lotto legal but online casino and gambling are illegal?

Above all, why is lotto legal in all the states but gambling in some parts of US by the citizens is illegal?

I think I am too dumb to comprehend the logic behind this conundrum

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...