The World Trade Organization partners have agreed to give the U.S. until December 14, 2007 to negotiate compensation settlement agreements with countries that have filed damage claims against the U.S. The claims are from the U.S.â€™ withdrawal of access to their online gambling market. This is a penalizing move it made following Antiguaâ€™s triumphant WTO challenge of U.S. online gambling restrictions earlier this year. There are many countries that have filed damages against the U.S. and they are: the European Union, India, Antigua and Barbuda, Japan, Costa Rica, Macao, Canada and Australia. Within the WTO, when a country cancels a previously ratified trade agreement, countries can file damages equal to their share of the lose in the market. The estimated value of the U.S. online gambling market is $100 billion.
The U.S. has yet to reach settlements with any of the countries that have filed damages against them by the deadline of October 22. Last month, negotiations between the European Union and the U.S. seemed to have stalled and went no where. Antigua is reportedly shunning negotiations with the U.S. Antigua wants to instead litigate for the $3.4 billion claim that they have. Gretchen Hamel, who is the spokesperson for the U.S. Trade Representativeâ€™s Office has said that each negotiation is happening at its own pace and some of the negotiations are quite advanced. She went on to say that they had agreed to extend the negotiation period for every country that has filed damages.
The deadline extension also gives more time for the Internet Gambling Regulation and Enforcement Act, which was introduced by U.S. Representative Barney Frank from Massachusetts, to gain support from the U.S. Congress. If this act would pass, then the IGREA would successfully create a regulatory framework for internet gambling companies to run within the U.S. and would eliminate the need for WTO trade compensation. Jeffrey Sandman, who is the spokesperson for the Safe and Secure Internet Gambling Initiative has said that additional support for the Frank bill give encouragement that the U.S. can avoid a major trade clash and paying billions in trade compensation and penalties.
The U.S. made the announcement that they were no longer going to comply with their own trade agreements back on May 4, 2007 and that they were going to ignore the WTO judgment.
I really hope this gets negotiated well – big stuff for casino players in the US.