Monthly Archives: February 2015

Antigua PM warns US that WTO stalling will force him to employ “remedies”

Antigua’s Prime Minister Gaston Browne appears to be losing patience with American officials over the negotiations to resolve the two countries’ World Trade Organization (WTO) dispute.

For over a decade, Antigua has been seeking redress from the US after Antigua’s licensed online gambling operators were denied access to US customers. In 2006, the WTO declared that the US had no right to block Antiguan operators on the grounds of protecting consumers while simultaneously permitting US horseracing operators to accept online wagers. The US was ordered to pay Antigua an annual $21m until a resolution was reached but the US has yet to ante up dollar one.

Since Browne was sworn into office last June, he has taken a markedly different approach than his predecessor toward resolving the WTO dispute. In September, Browne fired attorney Mark Mendel, who was hired by the previous administration to handle the case, and offered the US a “significant concession” in order to rejuvenate the stalled bilateral talks. That same month, Browne met with US Trade Representative Michael Froman and came away “encouraged” by their discussions.

On Friday, Browne was in the Bahamas, delivering an address at the 26th Inter-Sessional Meeting of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), the group that represents 15 regional nations. In his address, Browne noted that the 11th anniversary of the original WTO ruling in Antigua’s favor was coming up in just two weeks. Browne emphasized that Antigua has yet to see a penny of the $168m in penalties the US now owes.

Browne told CARICOM delegates that Antigua had “been patient and we have been reasonable” but “the casualness with which the ruling of the legitimate international body has been treated, and the neglect of a legally-binding obligation have implications for every country represented in this room.”

Browne reminded his audience that “there are remedies legally available to my government that have been stipulated by the WTO. We hope that we are not forced to resort to these remedies, but we have a duty of care to our people that we cannot disregard.”

Such remedies include the legal right to offer royalty-free digital downloads of American corporations’ intellectual property. In his discussions with the USTR, Browne has so far adopted a stance that is far more carrot than stick. Clearly he’s beginning to realize that the USTR might need a good beating to force them to treat Antigua with the respect a sovereign nation deserves.

Unclaimed Lottery money could be used to fund French Quarter police patrols, TV station reports

Louisiana Lottery officials said they are willing to work with state lawmakers on a proposal that would use unclaimed prize money to help fund additional Louisiana State Police patrols in the French Quarter, according to WGNO News. In this July 5, 2014, file photo, New Orleans Police officers and Louisiana State Troopers in the 100 block Bourbon Street at about 3 a.m. (Photo by Chris Granger, Louisiana Lottery officials said they are willing to work with state lawmakers on a proposal that would use unclaimed prize money to help fund additional Louisiana State Police patrols in the French Quarter, WGNO News reported .

Italy mulls reducing online sports betting tax, expanding betting options

Italy is taking steps to overhaul its online gambling regime, including reduced tax rates and increased sports betting options.

The biggest change is a shift from the onerous tax on betting turnover, which ranges from 2% to 5% depending on the type of wager. Under a new proposal expected to pass by the middle of March, online betting, bingo and tournament poker would now be subject to a maximum 20% tax rate on gross gaming revenue, the same system that already applies to online casino and cash poker verticals.

DLA Piper’s Italian market watcher Giulio Coraggio told eGaming Review the plan to set a uniform rate across all verticals was necessary to boost Italian-licensed operators’ chances of competing with internationally licensed competitors. The tax plan contains a provision for a reduction below 20% should the regulated market prove unable to make further headway.

Italy is also taking the leash off its online sports betting operators by bringing an end to the palinsesto ufficiale, the official list of accepted wagering types. When the market first launched a few years ago, Italian regulator AAMS kept an extremely tight lid on the types of markets licensed betting operators could offer. This list doubled in size in September 2013 and some forms of in-play wagers were finally permitted last October but operators still feel constrained compared to their dot-com brethren.

Under a proposal currently being weighed by the Italian government, betting operators would no longer have to rely on AAMS to monitor and settle sports betting markets. Coraggio said the government might also allow operators to offer non-traditional betting products like the ‘cash out’ feature that has proven popular among UK bettors.

Italy’s regulated sports betting market saw stakes rise 81% in January but lucky punters pushed revenue down 12% to €18.1m. Poker revenue was also down, falling 17% to €16.9m, dragged down by a 25% decline in cash games revenue to €9.1m, while tournament revenue dipped 4% to €7.8m. But casino revenue continued to grow, rising 15% to €25.9m.

Legal Poker Home Games Coming to Maryland?

A two-pronged attack to get poker home games legalized in Maryland is currently underway thanks to two Democrats. Senator Nancy King and Delegate Kirill Reznik have each submitted bills that would give Maryland residents the freedom to run poker games from the confines of their home. Senate Bill 184 (King) and House Bill 59 (Reznik) […]

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Things to know as New Mexico weighs new tribal casino deal

New Mexico lawmakers are facing a hard deadline as agreements that allow a handful of American Indian tribes to operate casinos approach their expiration date. Gov. Susana Martinez’s office has spent the past three years working with tribes to craft a new gambling compact that supporters say would bring stability to New Mexico’s gaming industry, protect jobs and increase revenues to the state.

California online poker waters no less muddy after iGaming Legislative Symposium

This week’s iGaming Legislative Symposium in Sacramento, California offered an appropriately dubious view on the state’s chances of passing online poker legislation in the near future.

As compiled from a torrent of tweets from the likes of @OPReport, @CAPokerNews, @steranseattle and @ftreric, the confab got off on a pessimistic foot during the keynote address from Assemblyman Mike Gatto, who has authored one of the three distinct online poker bills vying for passage in the current legislative session.

Gatto said that, going into this year, he’d pegged the odds of a bill passing in 2015 at 50:50. Gatto said he now views chances for passage by 2016 at no better than 35%, largely because stakeholders remain as divided as ever.

Gatto said politicians were being confronted with “15 different factions coming in and saying ‘this is a line in the sand, my way or the highway, we hate you for the rest of your life,’” leading pols to wonder “why do I even want to vote for this bill?”

Gatto also said online poker remains a fringe issue for most state residents, and thus a low priority for politicians. Of the over 57k emails Gatto’s office received in 2014, only four or five were about online poker.


Gatto’s AB 9 legislation contains a strict ‘bad actor’ clause that would bar participation by the likes of PokerStars. Gatto’s bill is supported by the influential Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians and the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians.