The Position of the U.S. and WTO agreements

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World Trade Organization2003 saw the first of 2 World Trade Organization complaints come against the United States pertaining to online gambling and the ban and build up there to by the United States Government. Both in 2004 and 2005 Antigua and Barbuda won their case in the international court. Even with the ban in place, US customers continue to migrate to the online poker rooms and casinos.

Over the last number of years, the US has established a pattern of stagnate behavior regarding online gaming. This is showing no change at this time, nor is it expected to occur. The US does permit a few select forms of US only online gambling. A couple of examples are lotteries, fantasy sports and horse betting, as long as the transactions are to and from the US. This is the protectionist behavior that brought the complaint in the first place. The US has imposed use of Article 21 of the General Agreement on Trade and Services or (GATS) to exclude themselves from the WTO coverage of online gaming.

The results of utilizing the Article 21 clause is the fiscal obligation to all of the WTO members who have been or will be ‘hurt’ by the USA not being involved with the online gambling, resulting in a loss for the country and their economy.

In May of this year the Dispute Settlement Body formally declared the US in violation of the commitments as covered by GATS, pointing directly to the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 (UIGEA ). At that time Antigua and Barbuda filed for compensation, and encouraged all of the 150 WTO members to do the same. Thus far 9 countries have filed, and the total is well into the billions for compensation.

It appears to be the hope of the US that members who have filed claims will continue to be able to handle this in a reasonable manner.

One Response to “The Position of the U.S. and WTO agreements”

  1. Gerri Bryce

    In the end all the U.S. can do is to justify the ban in a sense that if a particular game is considered illegal and the other is not, then there must be a “good” enough reason for it. We get the feeling that games such as horse betting and lottery are legalized only because of political backing and overall government profit.


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