Vice Squad
Friday, May 04, 2007
Rewriting History to Avoid a WTO Ruling

The US mostly won the internet gambling case that was brought against it by Antigua and Barbuda. (Here's a Vice Squad post on the matter from April 9, 2005 -- somehow the permalinks only bring you to the proper month, however, so there's some scrolling down to get to April 9.) But in the relatively small matter of betting on horse races, Antigua prevailed. The problem is that the US allows some internet betting on horse racing, but does not extend the required 'national treatment' -- a level-playing field between domestic and foreign suppliers -- to offshore internet gambling purveyors. The US has been dragging its heels (as per this February 7, 2007 post) in making the adjustments to its laws that are necessary to bring them into compliance with its WTO non-discrimination commitments.

The latest US dodge is to deny that it ever made such a commitment with respect to gambling. There was an error, you see, when the US failed to explicitly exclude gambling, as was its intention, when it signed on to liberalized trade in recreational services some 14 years ago. Apparently no one noticed the oversight until just now; conveniently enough, amending the agreement to the original intention will also nullify the force of the adverse WTO ruling. Glad we got that misunderstaning cleared up.

This sort of thing could catch on -- surely Russia did not really intend to sell Alaska to the US?

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