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The Antigua-United States Online Gambling Dispute

Author(s)

Isaac Wohl


Abstract

During the last decade, online gambling grew in popularity while complex and overlapping gambling laws in the United States left its legal status ambiguous. The United States’ efforts to prosecute foreign-based suppliers of online gambling services prompted Antigua to file a complaint in the WTO, in which it claimed that the United States had violated its GATS commitment to free trade in recreational services. The WTO ultimately ruled in favor of Antigua and awarded Antigua the right to suspend $21 million annually in intellectual property rights held by U.S. firms. This dispute exemplifies the potential for market access commitments to have unexpected and undesirable consequences. The potential for suspending intellectual property rights as a retaliatory measure may increase the leverage of small countries in trade disputes with large countries, but the implementation and management of such a suspension may be difficult and costly.