WTO Gives Antigua Only $21 Million In Sanctions; US Says 'Not So Fast…'

from the this-ain't-over-yet dept

The battle between the US and Antigua over online gambling is rather long. You can go back here to read a summary of the back and forth — but the quick version is that the US violated its own free trade agreements by banning some forms of online gambling (while allowing others). Antigua, home to many online gambling firms, filed a complaint with the WTO. The WTO repeatedly sided with Antigua, and the US repeatedly ignored those rulings, before the US eventually unilaterally claimed that it had changed its trade agreement so that online gambling wasn’t covered. In response, Antigua (with very little power) started pushing for a different kind of sanction against the US: it asked to be allowed to violate intellectual property of US firms, including copyrights, patents and trademarks. Antigua didn’t really want that to happen — it wanted to use that to put pressure on the US to back down and allow online gambling. A bunch of other countries started siding with Antigua until the US bought them off, leaving Antigua and a few other small countries fighting the US at the WTO.

Today the WTO came down with its final (no, this time they swear, it’s final, dammit!) ruling, saying (again) that the US definitely did violate trade agreements, but that Antigua is only entitled to $21 million. The WTO did allow Antigua to target US copyrights in order to make up that amount, but the way folks like the RIAA “count” the value of copyright, $21 million is, what, like 10 songs? This is obviously far short of what Antigua was hoping for. You would think that the US might just pay off the $21 million and be done with it… but that would only be if you didn’t recognize the way our government worked. Instead, even though there’s no appealing the WTO’s decision, the US is already warning Antigua not to put in place any sanctions based on this ruling. The US claims that it’s in the process of “revising its commitments” with regards to its trade agreements and that Antigua should wait until those revisions are complete before it thinks about putting in place sanctions. While Antigua “wins” again, the reality here is that the US appears to have bullied its way into the real winning position.

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Comments on “WTO Gives Antigua Only $21 Million In Sanctions; US Says 'Not So Fast…'”

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Shaun says:

Re: Re: Arrghh

New Zealand would be a good option, they are fairly good at standing up to the US. For example not allowing nuclear armed vessels (perhaps nuclear powered as well?) from the US into it’s ports for any reason. Australia, where I live, might be a good option as well since our previous Prime Minister – who was really big on sucking up to the US – was so resoundingly voted out (being only the 2n’d Prime Minister to loose his own seat). But this said the new government hasn’t been in office long enough to see quite how they will react to international relations. Sweden also sounds like a good option if you know the language, need I go on?

The US is hardly the be-all and end-all of civilized countries, I certainly wouldn’t place it at the top of my list for the best standard of living (subjectively) in my personal opinion despite it being the richest – though even this is being challenged nowadays.

charlie potatoes (user link) says:

here's your $$

Last I heard this wasn’t just your country, dickbert. and freedom of speech is tolerated here. that’s what used to make it so great. meanwhile, doofus, send me your $$, too..i may someday have an (god forbid) unpatriotic thought. people like you and the neocons and fundamentalists are as dangerous as muslim extremists.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: here's your $$

The problem is that the guy is pretending he’d leave if he could when in reality he most likely wouldn’t leave no matter how much money he had.

How do you know? Sounds to me like you’re just making stuff up to fit your own bigoted views.

ebert is only offering help him put his money where his mouth is.

Ebert is doing is being another intolerant bigot.

your reading comprehension isn’t what it should be from the sound of it.

The world isn’t the way you want it (luckily). Get over it.

Charlie Potatoes (profile) says:

reading comprehension

how about constitutional comprehension? you morons are the some ones screaming for an anti-flag burning amendment You dumb ass drum beaters swallow all you’re told and think its unpatriotic to bitch. you just don’t see the irony and you have no clue. sad. Next you’ll tell me you know God’s opinion.. oh,wait.. your christian preachers already tell me that.

Shun says:

Just say no to WTO

This example illustrates that the WTO is just a fig-leaf for what is really going on: bullying. When rich countries get a WTO ruling in their favor, they use it to bash small countries. When the little guy gets a break, it’s all stalling tactics from the big boys.

The big boys should be forced to pay for $21 million of capital equipment. They do not get to put a price on the value of the content. Why should they? What was the value of the money going to Antigua? Not just the bets themselves, but the increase in jobs which comes with casinos (see Indians and Vegas for examples)? With money coming in, Antigua could have sold secondary financial services, as well.

Ironically, they could have either contributed to or mitigated the sub-prime lending market. Who knows, at this stage? They weren’t allowed to play. Anyway, the main problem is that remedies in this case are “too little, too late.” The damage has been done, and the only useful remedy is for the U.S. to change its laws.

Since it won’t do that, then I’d say the U.S. is in breach of the WTO treaty, itself. How will this affect the rest of the WTO countries? If the U.S. is allowed delay sanctions, it pretty much confirms that the WTO is worthless.

See, this is why “they” hate America. It’s like the U.S. has an irrational fear of honoring its treaty obligations. No one trusts the U.S., now.

Max Powers (user link) says:

WTO let me down

I can’t believe the WTO let the U.S. get away with what they did. The penalty should have been in the billions to force the U.S. to play fair.

Following this from the beginning, I am so disappointed as I thought the U.S. would finally get the message that it can’t ignore what they signed concerning free trade and yet they allow U.S. companies to provide gambling via state lotteries and horse racing.

I hope the Horse Racing Industry dies, and it probably will because it is not bringing in any new blood to the sport.

I also hope that people quit playing the rip off state lotteries. Poker is so American that it’s a shame that online casino’s can’t provide it for the millions of people that would love to play it using any method of transferring money back and forth.

Nick says:


I love the US. I was born here. Grew up in a ghetto, went through shit and hell came clean on the other side. I love out Armed forces and everyone in general. Life is too short. BUT, WTF??? This is how it is….until the USA gets its head out of it’s ass and finds out a viable and secure way to offer online gambling, they are just pussy footing around the issue. We don’t know how to control or create the environment online. And the best part is, the correct peoples pockets are not lined up right now to benefit. Basically it’s like gee until we can milk this correctly and find a way how to setup the network, it’s not legal or wait it is legal, ah whatever just make it beneficial for us and line our pockets. USA WANTS online gambling worse than any of us. They need to find a way to suck it dry until then it will be legal/not legal whatever way it will benefit them for the time being until they get their heads out of their ass.

Go Cincy Bengals!

Andrew D. Todd (user link) says:

How Antigua Can Use Downloading to Make Money on T

Antigua is one of those little islands which really don’t export much of anything except tourism. Since tourism is consumed on the premises, so to speak, it is very difficult to construct trade sanctions against it. Antigua doesn’t get anything much from the WTO, and the same applies to all the other little islands. These little islands have all done offshore banking, dummy corporations, ship registries, etc., for years, and some of that has traditionally involved drug money, and they’ve gotten away with it, because the cost of invading them is simply too high to be justified. The Marines are really expensive. They cost more money than the MPAA/RIAA has, or ever will have.

Current web hosting rates are about a hundred times cheaper than broadband internet access rates. My estimate is that twenty-one million dollars, the figure decided upon by the WTO, would, at those rates, work out to about a hundred music albums per year for every American, enough to effectively swamp the music industry. For books, that amount of web hosting would go even further. An offshore server can have SSL encryption, and it can have large legitimate downloads (eg. open-source software mirrors), so that it would be impossible to make a legal case against people who download music from an offshore server. Unlike peer-to-peer software, offshore web-hosting would be untraceable, because the inquiry would founder on the island’s national sovereignty. American cops already get politely told to go pound sand when they ask questions about offshore bank accounts– the MPAA/RIAA would get rudely told to go pound sand.

Web hosting is likely to drive tourism revenue, in the sense that people will come to the island to buy web hosting accounts for cash, and will also spend money on hotels, etc. Twenty dollars worth of web-hosting is really a lot, in terms of what one can download with it. Web hosting would presumably be sold in the form of scratch-off cards, bearing an account number and a password. It is plausible that twenty million dollars worth of web hosting might drive a billion dollars worth of tourism, that is hotels, restaurants, airport landing fees, etc.

The only question is whether the United States government will pay Antigua an outright bribe not to go into the no-holds-barred webhosting business. If a bribe is paid, everyone else will line up to get their bribe. And there’s no end to that, of course. Alternatively, does the government feel more inclined to a) appease the movie and record industry or b) appease the anti-gambling lobby, the state of Nevada, and the indian tribes. There are a lot more of the latter than there are of the former.

Ivan says:

Offensive measures

There would be no need to send in the Marines, the “trade officials” have used a wide variety of economic weapons from their arsenal against several industries that the governments in these places tried to develop. The economic war has been on for at least 20 years in the form of black-lists, aid restrictions, trade sanctions, etc.

In the case of online gaming, ten years ago, the US goverment pressured financial institutions to deny accounts to online gambling companies, and reject any form of transaction which involved gambling.

Not only is $21 million not enough (I was operations manager at a casino that made that much in a single month), but it does not compensate for the past.

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