Mark Mendel of Antigua, the legal advisor specializing in matters related to World Trade Organization (WTO), said that the US federal government has created a serious problem for itself when it cracked down on offshore online gambling sites on what the online poker community calls Black Friday.

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Mendel stated that the US is not complying with WTO agreements by making it criminal to provide online gambling services. Since the US uses the WTO rules heavily to suit its own purposes, it cannot prosecute people for being involved in legitimate international business activities. He also said that the government of Antigua might approach the WTO and press for American compliance with WTO agreements since Antigua had worked very hard for these laws and is eager to see them being implemented.

Referring to the recent moves made to legalize online gambling across various states in the US and the spread of state-approved gambling activities, Mendel said that it is quite clear that the US is attempting to disguise economic protectionism as a moral issue. Accusing America of attempting to monopolize its domestic gambling market irrespective of its legal obligations at the international level, Mendel said that America should have involved the international gambling community in accommodating this brand new and international industry.

Mendel further added that the US government’s moves, which are hostile to offshore online poker companies, do not match its statements urging other countries to meet their trade obligations as per WTO agreements and its official policy of strict adherence to the law.

The officials of Antigua, the gambling jurisdiction that issued a license to Absolute Poker, along with many other online gambling providers, are considering the options of filing a law suit before the WTO against the US for its discriminatory business tactics.

Following Black Friday, Harold Lovell, the Antiguan minister of finance and economy, expressed his disappointment at the way America had behaved with offshore poker companies. He also expressed his concern at the way the US continues to prosecute offshore online service providers in violation of international trade laws.

It may be recalled that the WTO, in its ruling of 2005, had found the US guilty of violating international agreements of trade and commerce by preventing offshore online gambling sites to operate in the US. Although Antigua claimed that it lost $3.4 billion annually because of the US, the WTO ordered the US to pay $21 million in damages.

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