America Warned About Online Position
By staff
A leading trade policy expert has called on the US to quickly resolve its trade agreement violation case with the World Trade Organisation (WTO) as any delay could damage the WTO's credibility and force the US to pay billions in compensation.

The WTO ruled in March that the US unfairly prohibits foreign Internet gambling operators from accessing their market while, at the same time, allowing domestic companies to legally accept online bets. The case was brought by the Caribbean island nation of Antigua and Barbuda after the passage of America’s Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) in October. After losing the case, the United States Trade Representative announced that the nation would withdraw its commitments to the WTO to open its markets to offshore-based Internet gambling operators.

According to Sallie James, Policy Analyst at the Cato Institute's Center for Trade Policy Studies, America’s response is unique in the WTO’s history, and is extremely damaging to the Organisation’s credibility and an affront to other WTO members.

James was speaking at the Cato Institute Policy Forum in Washington, DC, about America's high-stakes response to the WTO Internet gambling dispute.

Currently, the 27 nations of the European Union, India, Japan, Australia, Canada, Costa Rica, Macao and 15 Caribbean nations are seeking compensation from the US for economic injury resulting from its trade agreement violation.

Another solution to America’s non-compliance could be the Internet Gambling Regulation and Enforcement Act that was introduced in the spring by US Representative Barney Frank. This bill, once enacted, would bring the nation into compliance with WTO requirements by regulating Internet gambling and creating a level playing field among domestic and foreign Internet gambling operators.

'The US should act now to address this international trade violation and end its prohibition of Internet gambling,' said Jeffrey Sandman, Representative for the Safe and Secure Internet Gambling Initiative.

'If the US continues to prohibit Internet gambling, our country could wind up being forced to pay billions in trade compensation. However, if we move to regulate Internet gambling, we can develop a responsible policy solution that allows the US to come into compliance with WTO requirements and give every American the right to make up their own mind whether to gamble online.”

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