EU slams US over web gambling

EU slams US over web gambling

Operators claim discrimination by the US

European online gambling operators have filed a formal complaint claiming discrimination and violation of international trade law by the US.

The companies are calling for US lawmakers to regulate internet gambling, and create a level playing field among domestic and international operators.

The action was filed under a provision of the European Union's Trade Barriers Regulation by the Remote Gambling Association (RGA), which represents the largest remote gambling companies in Europe.

The RGA claims that the US Department of Justice is in violation of international trade law by threatening and pressing criminal prosecutions, forfeitures and other enforcement actions against foreign online gaming operators while allowing domestic US online gaming operators, primarily horse betting, to flourish.

"We applaud the efforts of the RGA and agree that Congress should take action to end the current discrimination against foreign online gambling operators," said Jeffrey Sandman, a spokesman for the Safe and Secure Internet Gambling Initiative.
The RGA complaint follows a high profile trade dispute over online gaming resulting from Antigua's World Trade Organisation (WTO) victory over the US earlier this year.
After the WTO ruled that the US had violated trade rules in barring Antiguan online gaming operators from the US market, the US withdrew its WTO obligations with regard to free trade in the gambling area.

Earlier this week, the European Union and countries including Japan, Canada and Australia agreed to accept compensation from the US for the withdrawal of market access.

However, the trade concessions do not address charges against the US for discriminatory and protectionist practices against foreign online operators which took place before the withdrawal of the commitment.

"It is unfortunate that the Administration has unilaterally acted to resolve the WTO internet gambling dispute by continuing to block EU operators from accessing the US market," added Sandman.

"It is time for the US to end its hypocritical practices that discriminate against foreign online gambling operators, while allowing US gambling operators to accept bets for certain forms of gambling.

"Regulation of internet gambling should be supported as a means to resolve this trade dispute."