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U.S. Ignores WTO Ruling on Internet Gambling

5 Apr 2006

ANTIGUA AND USA -- As reported by the Kansas City Star: "The United States has apparently ignored an April 3 deadline imposed by the World Trade Organization to stop discriminating against Internet casinos based in foreign countries.

"What happens next is unclear, but the WTO's credibility and future U.S. policy on the legality of Internet gambling are on the table.

"The WTO essentially agreed with the tiny twin-island Caribbean nation of Antigua and Barbuda that the United States, which ostensibly bans Internet gambling, had opened legal doors to offshore Internet casinos. Antigua argued that banning U.S. betting at its Internet casinos was inconsistent with exceptions in the U.S. Interstate Horseracing Act and some state laws that allow domestic remote wagering by telephone and the Internet.

"...After losing the WTO case last spring, the United States pleaded for a year's delay to implement federal legislation to accommodate the ruling. But the year has passed without U.S. action to either close the loophole or make Internet gambling legal. One bill is moving forward in Congress, but it would only stiffen existing federal law while carving out exemptions for operators such as racetracks, Indian casinos and state-owned lotteries.

"Mark E. Mendel, an El Paso, Texas, lawyer and counsel for Antigua, said Tuesday that the office of the U.S. trade representative formally advised him in a telephone conversation Monday that there would be no further negotiations.

"...If the United States won't go back to the WTO bargaining table, Mendel said, measures initiated this week under WTO procedures would seek compensatory trade sanctions against the United States..."

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