Online Dispute Headed For WTO
By Staff
According to the Remote Gambling Association, a dispute over US enforcement actions against online gambling companies based in the European Union could be headed to the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

Investigators from the European Union are currently visiting members of Congress and the Executive Branch looking into allegations that the US Department of Justice is breaching international trade treaties. The allegations surround the continuing enforcement of laws against European businesses and individuals that at one time participated in the US online gaming industry, regulations that have been ruled illegal by the WTO.

'It looks very much as if this matter will be sent to the WTO at the end of the commission's investigation,' Lode Van Den Hende, outside counsel for the Remote Gambling Association, told the Reuters news agency.

This would open the door for possible European sanctions on the United States although it could take years for any case to make its way through the WTO litigation system.

European Internet gambling companies lost billions of dollars in market value after Congress shut down the US market by making it illegal for banks and credit card companies to make payments to online gambling sites under the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) of 2006. Many publicly traded European companies such as PartyGaming and withdrew from the United States after the passage of UIGEA but still face possible criminal prosecution for pre-2006 activities.

'I am increasingly concerned that if these disputes are not able to be resolved, it will likely mean costly retaliatory measures will be taken against US economic interests,' said Congressman Robert Wexler, Chairman of the influential Foreign Affairs Subcommittee.

Wexler, a Florida Democrat, said the United States should take the European Union's concerns seriously.

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