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WTO rules in online gambling dispute, 8 April 2005 

The World Trade Organization has handed down its much awaited appeal decision on whether the US goes in fact contravene trade laws with respect to its stance against online gambling.  

In November 2004,  the tiny Caribbean nation of Antigua Barbuda took its case against the US to the WTO which ruled that the the US had infact breached the General Agreement on Trade and Services (GATS) with its anti-online gambling stance.  The US subsequently appealed the decision.

While the consensus amongst commentators seems to be that the appeal largely upheld the original decision, the ruling seems to have a little bit in it for both parties.

"U.S. restrictions on internet gambling can be maintained," Acting U.S. Trade Representative Peter F. Allgeier insisted. "This report essentially says that if we clarify U.S. internet gambling restrictions in certain ways, we’ll be fine."

Or, as Mark Mendel, lead legal counsel for Antigua's case, put it, “Unless the US wants to repeal all of its laws that currently permit any form of domestic remote gambling and also adopt laws to affirmatively prohibit it in all forms country-wide, they will have to provide Antigua fair access."

From a story reported in USA Today, 16 March 2005

Three US states appear set to move toward legalizing gambling - flying in the face of prosecutors who have tried to apply the Wire Act of 1961 to prosecute online gambling operators.

The move comes after almost a decade spent by legal experts trying to grapple with the question of whether it is legal to gambling online in the US, and endless debate as to the inadequacy of current legislation and the inability of lawmakers to arrive at a workable legislative ban on online gambling.

The states are confident that proposed state legislation seeking to legalize online gambling operations in those states will not violate federal law, and are prepared to take there cause to court if necessary.

Illinois and Georgia are all either considering bills in their respective houses allowing the sale of lottery tickets online.  North Dakota have already passed legislation that will allow internet poker sites to operate inside the state.  "No one wants tax increases. This is a legitimate revenue maker," says North Dakota state Rep. Jim Kasper, R-Fargo who introduced the legislation.

All this comes amid news that the British parliament is this year expected to allow 137 terrestrial casinos throughout the United Kingdom to accept bets online from US residents, and continued interest in the WTO ruling against the US stance on online gambling.

Isle of man invites the poker Community

In December 2004, the Isle of Man moved to further entice online gambling operators by reviewing their current Online Gambling Regulation Act.

Under the review, the Island's Authorities have taken the following steps:

  • removal of the £2 million bond;
  • removal of the need for all software changes to be certified in advance;
  • the ability to have P2P poker and progressive jackpots licensed as regulated activities; and
  • no intention to prescribe in the revised legislation countries from which taking bets would be illegal.

The clear in intent from the Isle of Man is to attract online poker operators.  


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