EU probes US online gaming enforcement

Paul Meller
PC World
Tuesday, March 11, 2008; 12:19 AM

The European Commission has agreed to look into a complaint filed with it last year by a London gambling trade group that claims the U.S. is unfairly discriminating against European online gambling companies.

The U.S. is enforcing its laws against online gambling selectively against foreign suppliers, the Remote Gambling Association (RGA) claimed. The organization is objecting to what it says are prosecutions of its members for their actions prior to the passage of the 2006 Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act. It also objects to its members being shut out of the market while the U.S. permits domestic Internet companies to offer remote online betting on horse and dog racing.

The Commission will examine the issues raised by the RGA's complaint over the next five to seven months and issue a report, which might lead to World Trade Organization (WTO) proceedings against the U.S.

The U.S. is seeking to withdraw from its commitments to provide open access to its online gambling market under the General Agreement on Trade in Services it is a signatory to as a member of the WTO.

A spokeswoman for the U.S. Trade Representative's office in Washington said that it reached an agreement with the European Union in December to compensate it for the U.S. withdrawing from its international trade commitments as they relate to gambling services. She said that the USTR had been assured by the Commission that Monday's action is unrelated to that settlement.

The U.S. Department of Justice, which the RGA claims is selectively targeting European companies for prosecutions, had not responded to a request for comment by mid-afternoon on Monday.

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