Antigua and Barbuda is an island nation located in the eastern Caribbean sea, in the vicinity of Puerto Rico and Guadalupe. The country is made up of two large and several smaller Leeward islands in the West Indies, two of which are inhabited. It is an independent member of the Commonwealth of Nations as a former territory of the British Empire, and is a constitutional monarchy with a parliament and common law based on the governing system of England.
When online gambling is concerned...
...it is one of the most liberal and open-minded regions in the world. Actively supporting and promoting the iGaming industry since 1994, it is an established license provider to hundreds of gaming sites.
Online Gambling Authority
Ever since it gained independence in 1981, Antigua and Barbuda has been focused on building up the island's gaming industry, starting with the land-based sector, and moving onto internet wagering since 1994. It is the main source that fuels the economy of this small island nation, providing work and financial support for most of its inhabitants.
... the Directorate of Offshore Gambling (DOG) was formed and tasked with licensing online casinos.
In order to establish some partnership and support in the industry, the Antigua and Barbuda-based DOG signed a memorandum of understanding with the Kahnawake Gaming Commission in December, 2005. As a result, both jurisdictions have been allowed to share private information on potential licensees that they have investigated. This way, they managed to eliminate the time wasted on double checks by either jurisdiction, and further benefited the licensing and authorization operations they perform.
Later on, the two establishments extended their memorandum of collaboration in even greater benefit to their licensees. Thus, all operators licensed in one jurisdiction were able to get an inter-jurisdictional license from the other one.
Yet, the Antiguan jurisdiction has had some issues with those of the UK and the USA. The latter is addressed in more detail below; as for the former, it is notable that they rejected the application by Antigua back in January, 2008 to have them white-listed on their territory. This meant that operators licensed by the Antigua authoritative body would not be able to offer their online gambling content to UK residents.
In December 2016...
... the DOG was granted authorization to re-regulate the land-based gambling sector under the Antigua and Barbuda Gambling Bill 2016. It proposed and executed the establishment of the Gambling Authority of Antigua, intended to take over from the Financial Services Regulatory Commission. This centralized the governance over the entire industry, and particularly emphasized monitoring operations on land-based entities.
As of January 2017, the territory obtained an additional body – the Antigua Leisure and Gaming Association (ALGA).
It is comprised of several online gambling operators, and has been set up with the purpose to act as legal representation of their interests in the country’s politics, as well as to further the industry’s overall progress.
Online Gambling Licenses
All forms of gambling are legal and regulated by the Interactive Gaming and Wagering Regulations Act as of March, 2007. The services of six land-based and all e-gaming operators are very popular, open and legal to use for both domestic population and European tourists.
Casino games, poker, sports betting, bingo and lottery wagering can be conducted on the internet via two types of permits issued by the regulator: interactive wagering and interactive gaming.
To obtain a license...
... operators must be physically located on the islands, which provides added confidence for players due to easier monitoring.
DOG has an official website, where information about the Antiguan gambling legislation, application and licensing procedures, changes and news is available to general public. In addition, The Financial Services Regulatory Commission provides a public, comprehensive list of all current licensees, as well as brands who are seeking to establish legal operations here.
Antigua vs. US
From the very beginning, the jurisdiction was welcoming towards players residing in the United States, but in 2003 the US regulations became much stricter disabling access to all DOG-supervised platforms. Antigua immediately complained that by doing so, the US is in violation of the General Agreement on Trade Services commitment to free trade in recreational services, filing a complaint in the World Trade Organization. The WTO ruled in favor of Antigua, empowering its government to suspend intellectual property rights of US firms.
This decision of the WTO Dispute Panel was appealed by the US in the next authoritative body according to hierarchy – the Appellate Body. By April 2005, their ruling matched the initial one and required the USA to lift their prohibition. In lack of response on their side, a WTO Arbitrator gave the US until April 2006 to comply with the decision or face legal repercussions.
Soon, it became evident that such an approach is of little to no avail; as a result, the Antigua and Barbuda government were authorized by the WTO to find a way and compensate for their economic loss. Thus, they imposed a sanction that suspended US copyrights of 21 million USD worth of intellectual property.
Another wave of economic action...
... on the part of the Antigua and Barbuda government has been announced in November 2016, by the international trade ambassador for the country, Sir Ronald Sanders. With no response or final resolution to benefit both parties, the situation has remained as problematic up until this day.
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