Wednesday, February 07, 2007
Antigua-US Internet Gambling Dispute Rolls On
Back in 2005, the US largely won its internet gambling dispute with the two-major-island nation of Antigua and Barbuda. The part of the decision that favored Antigua concerned internet betting on horse racing. This is permitted in some US states, and furthermore, a federal US law explicitly makes such activity legal in states that license horse racing. But the US still wants to prevent Antigua-based internet wagering sites from being able to legally offer betting on horse races to US-based customers, and has been stalling the seemingly required adjustment in US laws. So Antigua has gone back to the WTO with a complaint that the US has not complied with the 2005 decision. Now it looks as if Antigua will win this round (again, in a sense); furthermore, the EU is an interested bystander in the proceedings.
Precisely what the EU interest is is uncertain, however. Surely EU-based internet gambling sites would appreciate fully legal access to US gamblers. On the other hand, internally, the EU faces exactly the same conundrum of protectionist internet gambling policies by individual nations. Some EU member states allow their residents to bet on sports, even over the internet, though only via an in-state monopoly provider. Countries also place controls on the advertising of foreign gambling services, while simultaneously aggressively promoting their own national lotteries. Both of these practices are likely to contravene EU rules, and are under challenge.