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Antigua, Barbuda Threaten US Online Betting Bill

25 March 2003

GENEVA – As reported by Bloomberg: "Antigua and Barbuda, the Caribbean island nation, has threatened to make a World Trade Organization challenge to a U.S. plan that would criminalize online betting, saying it may undermine the nation's economy.

"Antigua, which has a population of 68,000, contends that a U.S. bill not yet approved by the Senate would make it a criminal offense for American residents to use credit cards for betting online, jeopardizing Antigua-based Internet companies that handle about one-quarter of online bets globally.

"`What we want is survival, not blood,' Sir Ronald Sanders, ambassador at Antigua's London-based mission to the WTO, said in an interview. `We would like to see the law changed, but the Las Vegas lobby wants to keeping gambling exclusively for itself.'

"…The U.S. bill, introduced by Iowa Republican James Leach and passed by the U.S. House of Representatives in October, would require bank and credit card companies to stop processing payments to online casinos and make it illegal for gambling Web sites to accept credit card payments or wire transfers.

"Antigua developed its Internet industry to boost an economy whose main source of income, tourism, suffered following a series of hurricanes, Sir Ronald said. The Internet gambling industry employs more than 3,000 people in country, he said…"

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