WTO Deadline on Online Casino Sites Expires
The highly publicized deadline of 3rd April has expired and still the United States has not clarified its position toward the online casino industry. The deadline was intended to force the U.S. government to comply with a ruling relating to its ban on online casino sites that the World Trade Organization ruled against last year. However instead of complying with the ruling, further legislation to ban gaming at online casino sites has been recently submitted to the U.S. Senate.
Following a high profile complaint laid against the U.S. by Antigua, a WTO panel ruled in November 2004 that U.S. legislation outlawing online casino sites violated its commitments to WTO member nations. The U.S. was ordered to amend its federal Interstate Horseracing Act to prove that it was not discriminating against operators of online casino sites based in countries such as Antigua. The WTO ruled that the U.S. ban on remote gambling was not applied in a non-discriminatory manner because placing bets across state lines was permitted, while similar activity at offshore online casino and sports betting sites was banned.
Theoretically, the U.S. may now face trade sanctions from Antigua. However, because Antigua is not a major trading partner, little effect may be made. The more serious implications driven from the U.S. ban on online casino sites comes from other WTO member countries. International pressure may also mount given the British government’s decision to legalize and regulate online casino sites in the United Kingdom.