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WTO Investigates American Restrictions of Online Casinos

The World Trade Organization has set up an investigation after allegations from Antigua and Barbuda assert that the restrictions the United States has implemented against online casinos do not comply with international trade laws.

Antigua and Barbuda petitioned the World Trade Organization at the beginning of June to investigate after they consulted with the United States Government over restrictions on American citizens gambling in online casinos. The discussions brought no solution to the online casinos debate and the US government refused to budge on their decision.

In previous investigations by the World Trade Organization, the American Government was found to be in accordance with some of the international laws concerning online casinos but not all of them.

Antigua and Barbuda are pushing for the panel to investigate as there are bills passing in the United States that will ban online casinos outright and this the two island country believe is contrary to the WTO ruling. Antigua and Barbuda claim that the Federal Wire Act, the Travel Act and the Illegal Gaming Business Act all go against trade rules.

The US government stands firm behind its actions and claims that its laws concerning online casinos are all in compliance with the WTO ruling.

The World Trade Organization panel was set up this week, two days after the FBI arrested the CEO of one of the largest online casinos. The British based online casinos company is licensed in Antigua. The CEO David Carruthers was arrested while on a layover in Dallas Fort Worth Airport, on his way to Antigua. The online casinos group was charged on counts of racketeering and wire fraud.

Antigua and Barbuda rely on the lucrative online casinos industry to supply jobs to hundreds of islanders. The business is a welcome effort to try and create work that does not rely on tourism. By diversifying, more islanders can have year round work and not rely on seasonal jobs that leave them unemployed for some periods.

The WTO panel will investigate over a 90 day period and then submit its decision to both sides. America and Antigua and Barbuda are both permitted to appeal the outcome of the decision if they so desire.

United States trade officials state that the negotiations of the Uruguay round of global trade talks in 1995, which created the World Trade Organization specifically meant to exclude gambling and online casinos.

The United States has the biggest number of gamblers in online casinos in the world. More than half the people gambling online globally are citizens from the United States and North America, generating around $7 billion out of the $12 billion total.

Americans still gamble in online casinos despite the laws that make it illegal. The authorities don't enforce illegal gambling by the gamers but aim their attentions at those who run online casinos and those who promote the industry.

Many believe that the American government is fighting a losing battle and internet gambling is here to stay.




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