WTO Rules against US Online Casino Policy
The highest judging authority of the World Trade Organization ruled last week against the United States in one of the more anticipated rulings in recent times. The tiny Caribbean nation of Antigua and Barbuda asked the global trade body to intervene in their favor as it claims that the United States is discriminatory when it comes to the online casino industry. While land based gambling is promoted in the United States, foreign nations cannot offer online casino gambling to American citizens due to the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act. The act makes it illegal for financial companies to conduct any transaction with online gambling firm, and virtually makes it impossible for online casino firms to operate in the United States.
The online casino industry answered favorably to the rulings with online casino firms’ shares going up on the London Stock Exchange. Last year, when the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act was enacted, the United States accounted for half of the global online casino market. Today, five months after, the industry has expended to other parts of the world and the main focus is currently on Europe. Although the U.S. pledged to open the industry to competition some 10 year ago, the U.S. government tried to stop the industry from catering for its citizens, and the World Trade Organization found the matter to be discriminatory at best.
Voices from the United States are saying that the rulings will not change the current ban over online casino gambling posed in the U.S. The American government bans American companies from offering online casino gambling just as they ban foreign companies. However, the online casino industry is now hoping that pressure from the World Trade Organization could convince the U.S. government to change their take on online gambling and to allow American citizens to enjoy the world of online gambling. The Antigua government claims that the new bill has caused their economy large damages, and that from a $1 billion income bank in 2000, they are now facing about $130 million a year.