View Full Version : Internet poker legal wrangle

11-11-2004, 03:07 PM
U.S. to appeal gambling ruling
WTO say country must open up markets to Internet gambling operations based in Antigua.November 10, 2004: 5:43 PM EST

GENEVA (Reuters) - The United States vowed Wednesday to defend its ban on cross-border Internet gambling by appealing a World Trade Organization (WTO) ruling that favored the tiny Caribbean nation of Antigua. U.S. trade officials said it was highly unlikely the United States would lift its ban even if it loses its appeal in the David-and-Goliath battle.

Washington, as a last resort, could use its right under WTO rules to unilaterally revise its commitments to the organization and make clear it never intended to open its market to Internet gambling, a senior U.S. trade official said.

The decision to appeal was announced in Washington and Geneva as the WTO issued the text of the ruling in which a three-person panel found earlier that U.S. laws banning cross-border gambling on the Internet violate free-trading agreements. "This panel report is deeply flawed," a spokesman for U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick said in a statement. Details of the ruling emerged in March, when a preliminary finding was sent to the two parties involved for their comments. Both agreed then to resume talks to try to find a settlement, but the discussions failed.

In its original complaint filed in July last year, the twin-island state of Antigua and Barbuda, one of the smallest economies in the 148-nation WTO, said the U.S. law would hit hard at an industry that creates a hefty chunk of its revenues. The law bars residents of the United States, the world's biggest single economy, from betting in cyberspace through offshore casinos -- a growth industry in Antigua, where tourism, long its economic lifeline, took a nose-dive.

U.S. officials say the law -- which bans payment for bets by credit cards or checks issued by U.S. banks or by bank transfers -- is part of an effort to protect vulnerable sections of society from the dangers linked to gambling. But Antigua argued that Washington had not listed Internet gambling as an area which it wanted to keep out of a 1994 global agreement on free trade in services.

Antigua, which has a population of only 67,000, says the industry provides jobs for some 3,000 young people who would otherwise be on the streets or have to emigrate, and that taxes on its revenues help run health and education services. The U.S. appeal will be studied over the next three to four months by the WTO's semi-judicial Appellate Body.

A decision could be expected by February or March of next year. A senior U.S. trade official, who spoke on the condition he not be identified, said Washington was confident it would win on appeal. While it was true that U.S. commitments to open its service-industry market include "other recreational services," the United States never intended that to include activities such as Internet gambling, he said. "It's frankly inconceivable," he said, that U.S. negotiators at the time would have made commitments at odds with several state and federal gambling laws. The panel refused to let the United States invoke a public morals clause of the WTO to maintain its ban on Internet gambling. The official called that "shocking and troubling" and said the WTO should recognize that moral considerations have long been a factor in U.S. gambling-industry regulation.

11-12-2004, 11:01 PM
Just wondering when they will wake up and legalize it in the US and take a big chunk of the pie for themselves!

Plain stupidity not to...


Are they saying that US citizens are not legally allowed to play poker for $ on the internet?