Will the US Government have to Face WTO… Again?

April 25, 2011

Many online poker rooms hold licensure in Antigua and Barbuda. Now the small island country is asking the World Trade Organization (WTO) to investigate the validity of the recent seizure of online poker domains of FullTiltPoker.com, PokerStars.com, UB.com, and AbsolutePoker.com, as well as the indictments served by the US Department of Justice against executives of these online poker rooms.

For online poker sites still accepting US registrants, click here.

The position of Antigua has been from the beginning that the laws held by the US government regarding online poker were illegitimate under the WTO because gambling is legal in pretty much every US state in some form or another whether it is casino gambling, lottery, or some other form of betting. In addition, the US allows legal online bets to be placed on state regulated horseracing.
Legal advisor to the Caribbean government, Mark Mendel, stated in a Reuters article, “I don’t think there’s another country in the world that puts people in jail for engaging in trade that’s lawful under international law… It’s as if Antigua would put Americans in jail for selling pineapples.”

There have been many European countries that have found difficulty with European Union laws as they’ve regulated online gambling to their own stipulations and requirements. Now the US may have to face consideration of WTO laws before they can work out their own legislature. The same article claims that the US has been out ruled by the WTO in the past, stating that “[The WTO] ruled in 2005 that the United States violated international agreements on trade in services by prosecuting the operators of offshore Internet gambling sites. The WTO rejected the U.S. argument that the restrictions were necessary to protect public morality.”

Antigua diplomats will decide this weekend whether or not they will take the case back to the WTO.


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