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Last Updated: Friday, 19 August 2005, 20:34 GMT 21:34 UK
US given deadline in gaming row
Gambling chips
The case before the WTO dates back to 2003
The United States has until April 2006 to obey a ruling about cross-border gaming on the internet, the World Trade Organisation (WTO) says.

The global trade referee is allowing Washington enough time to adapt its legislation to comply with the ruling which was issued in April, 2005.

The ruling followed complaints from Antigua that US prohibitions were harming its online gaming business.

The US wanted to stop Antiguan online gaming firms from operating in the US.

David vs. Goliath

Antigua argued that its online gaming industry was a vital part of its drive to reduce the island's economic dependence on tourism.

The Caribbean state has invested heavily in the industry to boost its economy and job opportunities.

A WTO ruling found largely in favour of Antigua's complaint over US prohibitions which prevented US banks and major internet search engines from doing business with gambling firms on the island.

Additionally, US federal laws barred the placing of bets across state lines by electronic means, preventing Antiguan online gambling companies from accessing US customers.

Antigua is hopeful that the US will conform with the WTO's ruling, but trade diplomats fear that the island could do little if the necessary legislative changes are not made on time.

Trade partners who fail to implement WTO rulings often find themselves hit by sanctions, usually in the form of extra tariffs on their exports.

But this can have little impact on mighty economies such as the US in what has been dubbed a "David against Goliath" case.

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