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U.S. Online Betting Ban Challenged
The World Trade Organization issued a preliminary ruling involving a
trade dispute between the U.S. and the Caribbean islands of Antigua and
Barbuda. The complaint — which was brought last year by Antigua and
Barbuda — says U.S. restrictions on Internet gambling violate trade
commitments made by the U.S. when it joined the WTO in 1995 and
represent an unfair trade barrier.
The WTO ruling confirmed the complainants’ allegations and determined
the U.S. accepted obligations to allow gambling across national borders
when it became a member of the WTO. By prohibiting Internet gambling, it
has reneged on that agreement.
The U.S. argues it never agreed to eliminate trade barriers on
gambling services. It claims the language used in the U.S. service
commitments made by the Clinton administration clearly intended to
exclude gambling. It plans to appeal the ruling.
Most forms of Internet gambling are illegal in the U.S. The rules are
complex, but ultimately, the cumulative effect is to make the supply of
Internet gambling and betting services from a WTO member to the U.S.
Internet gambling has developed in the Caribbean to boost a
struggling tourism industry that was injured by a series of hurricanes
in the late 1990s. These nations say U.S. actions restricting offshore
gambling damaged its Internet industry, causing the loss of jobs and
Washington indicated it would fight vigorously a decision that could
open the U.S. to offshore gambling.
The U.S. has continued to try to stop online gambling by discreetly
threatening U.S. companies that have business relationships with
Internet gambling interests. A broad net has been cast that envelops
media, public relations and technology firms that could be held legally
liable for "aiding and abetting" online casinos.
The tactic appears to be working because several large media groups
have pulled ads for Internet casinos.
However, there is the view this approach may fail if advertising for
Internet casinos is found to be guaranteed by the First Amendment to the
Others support prosecution on the grounds it is illegal in the U.S.
for companies to profit from online casinos.
The U.S. says laws against Internet gambling are important for social
policy reasons. Gambling can lead to problems such as bankruptcy,
divorce and even suicide.
entire article at:
London Free Press
2004 Online Casino News Archive