Antigua’s “final” gaming dispute offer to be made in days

Prime Minister Gaston Browne told OBSERVER media, on Thursday, that the nation’s US Ambassador, Sir Ronald Sanders could make the counter offer “within a week”.

“We will never accept any one-sided agreement in which they treat us with contempt, and in which they fail to settle the issue in meaningful manner. We’re hoping that as a result of that proposal we’ll be able to come to a mutually satisfactory agreement,” he said.

On July 25, Browne informed the nation that the US offer had been rejected. When he spoke recently he said, “We thought they did not take us seriously. Just as they did with the former administration, they are trying to limit their liability to a minimal amount.”

The online gaming dispute – now over a decade old – began in 2003 when US authorities began to restrict its citizens from accessing internet gaming services based in Antigua & Barbuda.

When the US failed to observe the WTO’s 2004 ruling to allow online gaming, the organization’s Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) ruled in 2007 that Antigua and Barbuda could violate US copyrights to recover what was estimated to be losses of US $21 million annually.

To date, it is estimated that over US $200 million in revenue has been lost. “We’re determined that we must get as close as possible to that amount,” Browne said.

He also warned that if the matter is not settled by the date of his September visit to the United Nations (UN), he would use the opportunity to pummel the US for attempting to “utilize their might to trample on a small state”.

“As far as I’m concerned, that is the single issue which I will want to raise at the UN if they continue to treat us with this kind of contempt… perhaps they’re going to consider Antigua & Barbuda as a nuisance,” he said.

Asked to justify the change in his administration’s tactics from diplomacy to sanctions, the prime minister acknowledged the diplomatic efforts of the former administration (2004 -2014) and said that no other option but sanction remained.

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