US offered Antigua pennies on the dollar to resolve WTO dispute


antigua-america-wto-dispute-ronald-sandersOn Friday, Sir Ronald Sanders, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the United States and the Organization of American States for Antigua and Barbuda, appeared before the World Trade Organization’s Dispute Settlement Body, to update his government’s position on its 14-year online gambling trade fight with the United States.

The dispute, which has been covered at length on this site, involved US efforts to block Antigua-licensed gambling sites from doing business with US customers. The WTO found the US to be in violation of its international trade obligations, and dismissed US efforts to overturn this ruling.

To pressure the US into abiding by its obligations, the WTO authorized Antigua to collect $21m in annual penalties from the US. To date, the US has neither altered its protectionist stance on the online gambling issue, nor has it paid Antigua a single penny of the $270m in outstanding penalties that have piled up since the WTO first ruled in Antigua’s favor.

Earlier this month, Sanders (pictured) urged the US to honor its debt to Antigua to help fund the rebuilding efforts in Barbuda, which was devastated by Hurricane Irma’s Category 5 fury.

On Friday, Sanders repeated his call for timely justice, and also revealed that the US had offered Antigua a mere $2m to resolve the matter last year — a sum that represents less than 1% of America’s outstanding obligation. Sanders noted that $2m would not even cover the legal fees that Antigua has spent pursuing justice at the WTO, and that the US has failed to respond to Antigua’s communications since making this pitifully small offer.

Sanders also noted that Antigua has yet to undertake its ‘nuclear option’, i.e. offering royalty-free digital downloads of US intellectual property, despite the WTO having granted Antigua full authority to take this step. Sanders said it would be “very regrettable” if Antigua was forced to take this route, as Antigua would prefer not to inflict harm on individual copyright holders, and because Antigua has and continues to view America as a friend. Sanders’ full speech is reprinted at the bottom of this article.

In its response, the US Trade Representative reportedly expressed sympathy for Barbuda’s plight and said it was working with Antigua to aid Barbuda’s recovery, while repeating its claims that it remains committed to resolving the online gambling dispute through future engagement with Antigua.

Lip service aside, it’s clear the US had bigger fish to fry at the WTO on Friday, including injecting more molasses into the process by which international trade disputes are resolved. The DSB had permitted certain judges to continue to work on files after their four-year terms had expired, essentially allowing judges with experience in certain cases to finish their work, rather than turn the process over to new members who may not be as up to speed on the details.

The US rejects the validity of reports filed by these former judges, and claims that disputes should now be decided by unanimous content of the judges present. Critics say this creates the possibility that lone judges could nullify appeal rulings, and believe that such tactics reflect US President Donald Trump’s disdain for all international bodies that could interfere with US hegemony.

Tellingly, Friday saw the US approve a ruling involving some of these former judges, but only because it involved a dispute between Indonesia and the European Union, i.e. the US had no skin in this game, and thus could afford to look committed to the idea of ‘and justice for all.’

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WT/DS285: United States – Measures Affecting the Cross-Border Supply of Gambling and Betting Services

Antigua and Barbuda’s DSB Statement
By Ambassador Sir Ronald Sanders
on
Friday, 29 September 2017

Mr Chairman

It continues to be most unfortunate that, despite 14 long years of deprivation, Antigua and Barbuda has to appear before this body, year after year, to report that the United States has not seen it possible to offer fair and equitable terms to my small country for the significant losses in trade revenues that it has suffered as a result of U.S. violation of the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS).

At the last meeting of this body on 23rd November 2016, at which this matter was discussed, the delegation of the United States indicated that it had offered “a broad range of useful suggestions to settle this dispute in November 2013, only to have Antigua ignore the U.S. offer for a long period of time before finally indicating that it was not acceptable”.

For the record, Chair, my delegation is compelled to advise that, in accordance with the award made to my country by the Arbitration Panel established by this Body, the trade losses to Antigua and Barbuda now stands at more than US$200 million.

The U.S. offer that my Government found “not acceptable” did not amount to $2 million.

It should be no surprise, therefore, that my Government could not accept the offer.

It cost my small country much more than $2 million simply to bring the trade dispute to the attention of this Body and to seek redress in conformity with established and binding rules.

The U.S. delegation also told this body last November that “pursuant to Article XXI of the GATS”, the U.S. offered “a generous package of services concessions as compensation for removing internet gambling from the U.S. schedule”, adding that “Antigua is the only Member to block the United States from completing this process”.

My delegation is further obliged to point out that my Government has not “blocked” the United States from removing its commitment from its schedule.

We have acted to safeguard our rights.

And at such time as the U.S. makes a fair, equitable and just offer to Antigua and Barbuda for the extreme harm done to our economy, we stand ready to act in an appropriate manner consistent with the rules of this Organization that the U.S. helped to fashion.

Chair, other countries – not named by the U.S. delegation last year – have released the U.S. from its GATS obligations in this particular matter because, although these countries did not pay the cost of bringing it before this Body, the U.S. has settled their losses in ways that remain undisclosed to this Body and to my government.

It can hardly be fair or just that the U.S. has reached settlements with other countries and not with my small country which was the principal victim of losses in trade revenues and employment.

The delegation of the United States also told this Body last year that “the regulation of cross-border gambling is a matter of public morality”.

Consequently, my delegation is obliged to point out that in April 2005, the Appellate Body of this organization found that the U.S. could not invoke a “morals defense” to its violation of the GATS.

What is more, while the U.S. has banned internet gaming from foreign providers, domestic gambling service providers continue to operate and thrive.

Last November, the U.S. delegation advised this body that the government was reviewing “the most recent communication” from my government and that it “will continue to work expeditiously toward finding a realistic settlement”.

It is with profound regret that my delegation has to advise that 10 months later, my Government has not received a response from the U.S. despite many overtures, including our most recent letter of 5th June 2017 to the US Trade Representative which has gone unanswered.

Chair, my delegation points out that the size of Antigua and Barbuda’s economy is a mere US$1.4 billion; the size of the US economy is US$18 trillion.

Further, over the 14 years in which my small country has suffered trade revenue losses in this particular matter, exceeding US$200 million, we have in no way taken any hostile or retaliatory action against the U.S.

Indeed, the contrary is the truth.

For, over that same period, the U.S. enjoyed a trade surplus with Antigua and Barbuda of U$2 billion, as we continue to purchase almost 70 per cent of goods and services from the U.S.
We have not diverted our purchases away from the U.S. market.

Therefore, while the trade revenues losses to my small country is almost 20 per cent of our Gross Domestic product, settling with us would represent only .0011% of one year of the GDP of the United States.

Chair, my country has just suffered enormously from the ravages of Hurricane Irma.

Three weeks ago, the island of Barbuda, our second most populous island, was completely decimated by the Category 5 hurricane’s battering which left all the inhabitants homeless and with no potable water, no electricity, no hospital and no school.

My government was forced to declare the island a disaster and to evacuate all the residents to Antigua where they are now being maintained in difficult and cramped circumstances despite our best efforts with limited resources.

For the first time in 300 years, there is not a single permanent resident on Barbuda, and Antigua is faced with an unexpected and unscheduled increase of 3 percent of its population and all the demands that such a sudden influx of people entails.

Additionally, we are confronted with an estimated cost of more than US$250 million to rebuild Barbuda and to resettle its inhabitants in their homeland.

There would be no better time than now, for the United States to settle this long-running issue which mars an otherwise friendly relationship between our two countries that has existed for generations.

Of course, Chairman, Antigua and Barbuda has the option of implementing suspension of U.S. intellectual property rights which is the award given by the Arbitral Bodies of this Organization.

Over these many years, we have not done so, not because we can’t, or because we haven’t had offers to help us implement the award in a transparent way and consistent with the DSB’s authorization.

We have not done so because we have too high a regard for the U.S. owners of intellectual property who have contributed much to the enjoyment and advancement of the world.

We had hoped that the U.S. government would respond to our restraint in ways that would settle this issue without causing any loss of income to U.S. copyright holders.

Chair, we are aware that in 2010, Brazil was awarded the right to suspend payment of U.S. intellectual property rights in compensation for trade losses.

The US settled with Brazil by cash payments of over US$440 million and other ways in 2010 and 2014.

It would be very regrettable, Chair, if tiny Antigua and Barbuda were compelled to be the first country to have to suspend payment of U.S. intellectual property rights despite its best efforts to reach a settlement with the U.S., its largest and richest neighbour to whom it has always been – and remains – a friend.

Thank you, Chair.

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Uruguay to block online gambling domains, payments, marketing


uruguay-bans-online-casino-pokerUruguay has made good on its threats to impose strict prohibition of online casino and poker sites while introducing new taxes on state-approved forms of gambling.

Last week, the Uruguayan Senate voted 30-6 in favor of the country’s new Accountability Law, which includes the new gaming provisions. The bill was previously approved by the country’s lower house, and was signed into law on Monday by Uruguyan President Tabaré Vázquez.

Among Law 19.535’s gambling-related changes is a new 0.75% tax on gambling turnover made through officially approved casinos, gaming halls, racetracks, sports betting shops and the operations of the state-owned National Directorate of Lotteries and Quinielas.

The national lottery operator is also the only operator approved to operate online gambling, and only for sports betting. Law 19.535’s Article 244 states that “casino games such as poker, roulette, slots” and similar products are “absolutely prohibited” via any remote channels.

To ensure this restriction is observed by internationally licensed online gambling operators currently serving Uruguayan punters, Article 245 empowers the state to “adopt various preventive and sanctioning measures to prevent the proliferation” of online gambling, including “blocking of access to websites, financial frauds, as well as the prohibition of commercial communications, sponsorship and advertising of unauthorized games.”

Uruguay’s Ministry of Economy and Finance had signaled its intention to take the prohibitionist road in July, while National Party deputy Jorge Gandini had publicly railed against the fact that GVC Holdings’ Sportingbet brand was able to market its wares in the country via its sponsorship of local sports icons Club Nacional de Football.

Uruguay’s regressive stance stands in stark contrast to the new regime in Colombia, which became the first South American jurisdiction to formally approve online gambling legislation last year. Colombia has since issued two online gambling licenses, with four more reportedly coming in the coming weeks, although Colombia too has found it necessary to impose domain- and payment-blocking measures to wall off its regulated market.

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    Schleswig-Holstein vote dooms Germany’s new gambling treaty


    germany-gambling-treaty-schleswig-holsteinGermany’s latest gambling treaty appears dead in the water after two state parliaments decided not to sign on.

    In March, the leaders of Germany’s 16 länder approved the country’s new State Treaty on Gambling, which was to take effect on January 1, 2018. But the treaty required the unanimous approval of each state’s legislature, and legislators in the northern state of Schleswig-Holstein voted on Friday to opt out of the treaty.

    Schleswig-Holstein’s vote wasn’t unexpected, as the state’s newly elected government announced in June that it planned to revive the state’s previous gambling legislation, which, unlike the federal treaty, was cool with operators offering online casino and poker in addition to sports betting. Friday’s vote wasn’t even close, with only the Social Democratic Party members voting in favor of the federal treaty.

    Schleswig-Holstein had also announced in June that it would team with the state governments in North Rhine-Westphalia, Rhineland-Palatinate and Hesse on a new regulatory scheme based on the original Schleswig-Holstein licensing regime that it hoped the rest of the states would eventually join.

    Earlier this month, legislators in North Rhine-Westphalia announced that they too would not be ratifying the new law, and therefore the state didn’t intend to take over responsibility from the state of Hesse for implementing the new federal treaty.

    The net result is that the status quo will likely prevail in Germany for the foreseeable future, meaning German-facing sports betting operators holding licenses in other European Union jurisdictions can continue to serve their German punters provided they pay attention to anti-money laundering responsibilities and don’t violate advertising restrictions.

    The new treaty the states agreed to in March was intended to address the failings of the 2012 treaty, which capped the number of available sports betting licenses at 20. That cap, along with the unnecessarily opaque licensing process that followed, was routinely rubbished by both local courts and EU legal bodies.

    But the new treaty was similarly condemned by the European Commission just days after its release, and a temporary workaround proposed by Hessian regulators met its Waterloo in a local court a couple months later.

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    Strip club derails Trump Taj Mahal property revival


    A strip club that once operated inside the now-shuttered Trump Taj Mahal casino in Atlantic City is standing up for its right to offer adult entertainment at the facility when it reopens under new owners.

    Philadelphia Magazine reported that Boardwalk 1000, LLC has brought SCORES Atlantic City to court after the strip club owners pressed the right to reopen their business should the shuttered hotel come back to life as the Hard Rock Atlantic City.

    The Taj Mahal officially closed last October, putting nearly 3,000 of its staff out of work. Donald Trump’s buddy Carl Icahn and the union of casino workers failed to agree on a new contract that would cover health insurance and pension benefits.

    Strip club derails Trump Taj Mahal property revivalIn March, Hard Rock International struck a deal to acquire the Taj and promptly announced plans to spend $375 million remodeling the joint as the new music-themed Hard Rock Atlantic City, which is set to re-open in summer 2018.

    But Boardwalk 1000 claimed that SCORES has been “impeding and compromising” the property owners’ plan to revive the beleaguered property due to the strip club’s insistence that the venue can’t open without them.

    SCORES has been a fixture in the controversial property since it leased nearly 300,000 square feet for the pleasure of affluent visitors looking for worldly fun while drinking $25,000-a-bottle champagne.

    In its petition filed on Monday, Boardwalk insisted that SCORES has no legal say on how they will run the casino since SCORES’ lease expired in June 2016.

    Boardwalk’s counsels maintains that SCORES would jeopardize the Hard Rock’s ability to open on time in summer 2018. To allow SCORES back onto their property would also definitely disparage the Hard Rock brand, according to the lawyers.

    They pleaded for the court to rule that SCORES “has no further right to occupy or utilize the space formerly leased by it.” They also appealed to SCORES to give up on their ambition to reopen the strip club in the property.

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    Pragmatic Play signs with Bethard


    Provider’s portfolio made available to Bethard Group players in latest deal

    Malta, 19 September 2017 – Multi-award winning slot developer Pragmatic Play has agreed a deal to provide its expanding portfolio of high-quality games to leading operator, Bethard Group.

    PRAGMATIC PLAY SIGNS WITH BETHARDThe provider’s collection of state-of-the-art titles, including recent releases Queen of Gold, Pixie Wings and Jurassic Giants are now available to Bethard’s customers.

    Yossi Barzely, Head of Business Development at Pragmatic Play, said: “Bethard is one of the industry’s most attractive operators, and we are delighted to have signed an agreement to offer our leading selection of titles to its players.

    “Our games are among the top performers with all of our partners, built on our commitment to innovative game mechanics and immersive design. I am certain they will prove just as popular with Bethard’s customers.”

    Bjørnar Heggernes, Casino Manager at Bethard, said: “A winner is always one step ahead and is always looking for that edge. That’s why we are excited to bring the highly rated Pragmatic Play games into the Bethard portfolio. Not only does it give our players the best casino experience, it makes our players the real winners.”

    The deal represents the latest expansion of Pragmatic Play’s market reach, having recently penned deals with GVC and GAMEIOM – greatly extending its portfolio via GVC’s multiple brands and to operators including Ladbrokes Coral and BetVictor.

    Pragmatic Play releases two new games per month throughout the year which are a fixture on some of the world’s leading casino brands.

    For more information on this release or to arrange an interview please contact Tom Lewis at Square in the Air on 020 3586 8257 or tom.lewis@squareintheair.com

    About Pragmatic Play

    Pragmatic Play is one of the fastest growing mobile and desktop providers of digital casino games for the online gaming industry. Our passion for premium entertainment is unrivalled and we strive to create only the most engaging and evocative gaming experiences. Pragmatic Play’s Games Library contains unique in-house content consisting of over 80 proven slot games, supporting 22 languages and all major currencies. We employ our extensive expertise to ensure that each high-quality game developed in our studios represents our mantra of innovation and dedication.

    For more information please visit http://pragmaticplay.com/

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    WATCH: How to get a good night's sleep


    Transcript for How to get a good night’s sleep

    I’m glad she’s getting it out there for a lot who suffers from it. Who has trouble suffering from not sleeping? There are new ways to help get a better night sleep and the CDC says up to 70 million people, that means we’re not alone, have sleep or wakefulness disorders. Our Becky Worley, well, she’s one of them getting great tips from a sleep coach. ??? Reporter: Time, 2:45 A.M. Location, Oakland, California. Good morning to you, Becky. Good morning, Lara. Reporter: Job, west coast correspondent for an east coast morning show. Great tips as always, Becky Worley, we thank you. Reporter: After my 5:00 A.M. Live shots I’m usually back to bed. This shift work can lead to problems like insomnia. The worst is when it’s my day off and I wake up at 3:00 A.M. Anyways then it takes me a while to get back to sleep. Joy. My short-term memory can get weird. Wait. Why did I come in here? I am a sleep mess. Enter this sleep coach. We help you find those nooks and crannies of where the underlying issues may be and then help you get back on track with your sleep. Reporter: Mara has me log my sleep, caffeine intake and alcohol consumption and investigates my sleep space. Okay, so I see the blackout shades. Yeah. Those are key. Yeah, absolutely key. Reporter: She makes suggestions like with my right before bed Facebook habit. The amber light settle is like the night shift. You can put it on and schedule it. What happens a lot of times is right before bed people are exposed to blue light and then they’ll have a hard time falling asleep. Reporter: She looks at my fellow. You want to visualize a line coming from the top of your scalp coming down your forehead down through your nose, lip, chin, neck, chest, all the way down to your belly button. Reporter: When we talk about what wakes me up in the night, a surprising culprit is identified. A lot of types people don’t think about, well, what noises can my pets or how can they make me up at night. She leaves three three practical steps to improve lie sleep. Noise, wear earplugs when I can and at the least — Taking off the dog collar to eliminate the noise at night. Eat earlier and cut alcohol. Final finally, chill. The problem, emotions we haven’t dealt with can bubble up at night. Monkey brain. Exactly. Reporter: So to process feelings she advises multiple check-ins where you breathe deeply, do a gut check and feel your feelings before you go to bed. So a lot of the best ways to improve your sleep actually happen out of the bedroom. Yes. It’s not just, okay, what’s happening in the bedroom or how much sleep did you get at night but what’s happening the whole day. All right, good advice for all of us. A lot of good advice there. I could have told Becky to the to go right to bed after a live shot. You got to power through, girl. We’ll all be sleeping good tonight if we follow her advice.

    This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.



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    McDavid enters NHL Camp as favorite on Hart Trophy odds


    Edmonton Oilers centre Connor McDavid earned his first career Hart Trophy as the National Hockey League‘s Most Valuable Player last year, in just his second season in the league. McDavid also sits as the favorite on the odds to win the Hart Trophy once again in 2017/18.

    Odds courtesy of OddsShark.com

    McDavid is the +150 favorite on the Hart Trophy odds for the season ahead, with NHL training camps getting underway this week. The young superstMcDavid enters NHL Camp as favorite on Hart Trophy oddsar led the league in scoring last year with 30 goals and 100 points in 82 games, and led his Oilers back into the playoffs. McDavid’s rookie campaign in 2015/16 was cut short due to injury; he had 48 points in those 45 games.

    Pittsburgh Penguins centre Sidney Crosby finished second behind McDavid in the Hart Trophy voting last season, having already picked up the award twice in his career (2006/07 and 2013/14). Crosby is McDavid’s closest competitor on the Hart Trophy odds for the season ahead at +250, as he looks to lead his Penguins to a third consecutive Stanley Cup victory.

    It’s then Toronto Maple Leafs centre Auston Matthews third at +850 on the Hart Trophy odds, after he had 40 goals and 69 points last season to win the NHL’s Calder Trophy as the league’s top rookie. The last Maple Leafs player to win the Hart was Ted Kennedy in 1954/55.

    Two former Hart Trophy winners then round out the top five players on the betting prop, with Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals at +900 and Patrick Kane of the Chicago Blackhawks at +1400. Ovechkin has won the Hart Trophy three times in his career, in 2007/08, 2008/09, and 2012/13. Kane took home the award after the 2015/16 campaign.

    Forward Vladimir Tarasenko of the St. Louis Blues is then at +1500 on the odds, with 2011/12 Hart Trophy winner Evgeni Malkin of the Penguins at +1800, and 2014/15 Hart Trophy winner Carey Price of the Montreal Canadiens joining John Tavares of the New York Islanders at +2000. Steve Stamkos of the Tampa Bay Lightning and Jamie Benn of the Dallas Stars join Erik Karlsson of the Ottawa Senators in the next tier at +2500 on the Hart Trophy odds board.

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    Bengals bigger home favorites with Watson starting for Texans


    Bengals bigger home favorites with Watson starting for TexansDeShone Kizer was the first rookie quarterback to start in 2017 for the Cleveland Browns when he faced the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 1. Deshaun Watson is expected to be next in line for the Houston Texans (0-1), who visit the Cincinnati Bengals (0-1) on the road in the Week 2 Thursday Night Football matchup.

    Odds courtesy of OddsShark.com

    Bettors have picked up on Houston’s anticipated quarterback change, as the Bengals have gone from opening 3-point home favorites up to 6.5-point chalk.

    Fourth-year player Tom Savage had started the season opener for the Texans, but he was so bad against the Jacksonville Jaguars that he made counterpart Blake Bortles look good. Savage completed 7-of-13 passes for 62 yards before giving way to Watson, who was 12-of-23 for 102 yards with one touchdown and one interception.

    The duo was sacked a combined 10 times for 54 yards in a 29-7 loss as a six-point home favorite.

    Cincinnati did not look any better in a 20-0 home loss to the Baltimore Ravens (1-0), with veteran quarterback Andy Dalton turning the ball over five times, including four interceptions. Regardless, the public seems to like Dalton a lot more in this spot than a rookie making his first road start, which is a popular handicapping angle bettors like.

    Speaking of the Jaguars (1-0), they are underdogs for the second straight week, only this time they will be at home hosting the Tennessee Titans (0-1). While that is not really surprising, bettors will be curious to see if the Jaguars can somehow find a way to improve to 2-0 behind Bortles as 2-point home dogs.

    Jacksonville rookie running back Leonard Fournette had an outstanding debut to help take some pressure off Bortles, carrying the ball 26 times for 100 yards and scoring a touchdown. Defensively, the Jags will get a bigger challenge from the Titans, who are coming off a 26-16 loss to the Oakland Raiders.

    One more game worth watching is a reunion between head coach Doug Pederson of the Philadelphia Eagles (1-0) and his mentor Andy Reid of the Kansas City Chiefs (1-0). Of course the Chiefs shocked the world to open the season with a road upset of the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots last Thursday. But the pressure is on Kansas City after that victory as a 5.5-point home favorite after opening at -4.

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