Antigua Looking to Asia for Licensees

21 July 2008

With the United States settlement outstanding, and having not been admitted to the United Kingdom's advertising white list, Antigua and Barbuda is looking toward Asia to bolster its struggling online gambling economy.

"We have been able to begin to diversify the industry and notwithstanding the challenges with the USA, we have been able to look for markets outside the US," L. Errol Cort, Antigua's finance minister, told the Antigua Sun Monday.

"In particular, we have been seeking to penetrate markets in Asia," he said.

Since 2000, the size of the island nation's online gambling workforce has dipped 82 percent.

That year, 93 different licensees, with an estimated total workforce of 1,900 residents, controlled 61 percent of global online gambling revenues, or $1.7 billion.

In 2007, however, 30 licensees employed just 333 residents and commanded 7 percent of global revenues, or $948 million.

From Asia, Mr. Cort told the paper, Antigua has drawn one or two new licensees, though he did not specify which companies those were.

In related news, Antigua and the United States have pushed their World Trade Organization settlement deadline back to Aug. 1 from July 11.

The two countries have been in negotiations since late January over the United States' decision to withdraw gambling services from the General Agreement on Trade in Services.

The withdrawal stems from a near five-year dispute between the two nations over the United States' Internet gambling policy.

The IGN staff continually troll the wires, foreign papers, corporate news alert services and other dark, dusty corners of the Web to bring you the very latest industry news.