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Antigua Sets Friday as Deadline in Gambling Dispute With US

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Staff member
Jan 14, 2008
Antigua Sets Friday as Deadline in Gambling Dispute With US
(AP)--Washington and this tiny Caribbean nation have set a new deadline of Friday to resolve their dispute over Internet gambling, according to the islands' top finance official.

Antigua accuses the U.S. of crippling its gambling industry by banning Americans from placing online bets with gambling operators, including those based in the twin-island country of just 70,000 inhabitants.

On June 6, a World Trade Organization deadline passed without resolution. The WTO last year backed Antigua's request to target U.S. services, copyrights and trademarks in retaliation for a U.S. online betting ban - but ruled it could impose only $21 million in annual trade sanctions.

On Monday, Finance Minister Errol Cort said sit-downs with U.S. trade representatives could achieve resolution over the gambling discord by a new settlement deadline of Friday.

The June 20 deadline will "allow both parties additional time to see whether we're able to meet some amicable resolution," Cort told reporters. He did not disclose specifics.

Sean M. Spicer, a spokesman for the office of the U.S. Trade Representative, has said the U.S. and Antigua were trying in good faith to settle the dispute through a mutual agreement.

A law passed by the U.S. Congress in 2006 bars banks and credit card companies from processing payments to online gambling businesses outside the country. That regulation effectively blocks Antigua's access to the U.S. gambling market, the most lucrative in the world.