The game of Russian Roulette between America and the small island nation of Antigua has reached its peak stemming from the United States’ continued efforts to block online gambling. Although Las Vegas and Atlantic City are American gambling meccas, online gambling is illegal in the United States with federal law prohibiting citizens from using online gambling services.
The World Trade Organization intervened to attempt to level the playing field between the island nation who heavily relies on its proceeds from online gambling as a source of revenue for its economy. The court found that the United States violated General Agreement on Trade in Services (“GATS”) because it adopted “measures” that interfered with its obligation to provide free trade in betting and gambling services with Antigua. Antigua specifically highlighted three federal laws (1) the Wire Act of 1961, 18 U.S.C. §1084 (“Wire Act”); (2) the Travel Act, 18 U.S.C. §1952 (“Travel Act”); and the Illegal Gambling Business Act, 18 U.S.C. §1955 (“IGBA”) that specifically violated GATS.
The WTO after determining that the U.S. prohibitions against international online gambling violated existing international trade agreements allowed Antigua & Barbuda to suspend U.S. copyrights in Antigua as compensation. This authority is going to cost America upwards of $21 million per year effective from April 2006. Antigua, eager to implement this judgment, has already established a “WTO Remedies Implementation Committee” which will develop and oversee the process of enforcing the WTO authorization. The committee was created with the mission of “harvesting benefits” from the suspension of United States intellectual property rights as sanctioned by the World Trade Organization
This is an example of a non-superpower standing up to the United States government and declaring that they have had their interests violated. Although the United States has its own interests that it wishes to further with these laws do to the interwoven nature of our economy due to World Wide Web as a marketplace; the United States should have taken into consideration the domino effect on foreign nations that it’s policy would create. This shows further proves the importance of third party entities that have the ability to impartially adjudicate claims between nations. Do you believe that the WTO fairly ruled in this matter? Was there a better remedy than the one implemented?
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