The dispute between the U.S. and Antigua jurisdictions over the former’s stupid campaign against online gambling is one of the most interesting happenings of the past few years. I’ve been meaning to write about it for about that long but haven’t had much more to say than what you see in the post title. Antigua correctly sees the U.S. as restraining trade and has obtained favorable rulings at the World Trade Organization.
Antigua (actually the jurisdiction of Antigua and Barbuda) is seeking the right to suspend enforcement of U.S. copyrights as an alternative remedy. Unfortunately this sounds way more interesting than it is, except possibly for its precedent. The latest ruling only allows the suspension of US$21 million worth of intellectual protectionist obligations, a trivial amount that will itself be subject to radically different interpretations considering how difficult and arbitrary the valuation of nonrival goods can be (the RIAA’s ridiculous valuation of shared audio files is exactly a case in point). Even had Antigua’s request for US$3.44 billion not been cut down by about 99.4% the result would have been largely academic.
I have sub-golf level interest in horse racing, poker, or other gaming-oriented gambling activities. So why is this case so interesting? There is The Mouse That Roared or David vs. Goliath aspect, but mostly I really want to see U.S. gambling prohibitions go down in flames, both because they are a tool for arbitrary censorship and control in much the same way copyright is and because they are a barrier to use of prediction markets.
The world will route around this U.S. stupidity, but at great loss, not least to Americans.