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E.U. urged to address online gambling issue with the U.S.

 In the light of the guilty plea submitted by PartyGaming founder Anurag Dikshit in U.S. court for violating the Wire Act by allowing U.S. customers to place wagers with the popular Party Poker website and other online gambling properties owned by PartyGaming Plc., the Remote Gambling Association (RGA) is urging the European commission to take the necessary next steps to protect the Union's interests from WTO-violating retroactive and discriminatory enforcement by US
authorities, in the area of internet gambling. "These events show that the outgoing US administration and the Department of Justice have shown a total disrespect for the legal rights of European online gaming companies and those associated with them and a complete disregard for US international commitments under GATS," Clive Hawkswood, Chief Executive of the RGA, commented on the guilty plea by Dikshit and the $300 million fine he agreed to pay for allowing U.S. players to gamble at the PartyGaming's online properties before the passage of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act in the late 2006.

 "It’s amazing really that a company which has just been voted by the leading industry publication as ‘responsible operator of the year’ is the one that has been most targeted for this sort of enforcement activity while other businesses that are still active in the US market, including notably US operators, do not appear to be targeted in the same way. That this happens while the US Internet gambling market, the biggest in the world, continues to grow and while US companies are free to develop their businesses in Europe, is quite astonishing. In the circumstances it is not unreasonable for us once again to seek the support and protection of the European Commission. We hope and believe that these continuing breaches of international law by the US will serve to strengthen the Commssion’s resolve," Clive Hawkswood said in a press release distributed by the Remote Gambling Association.

 EU Commissioner Peter Mandelson wrote to the Bush Administration in June 2008 requesting a freeze on all enforcement actions by the US authorities against European online gaming companies on the grounds that they violated international trade rules set by the World Trade Organization. Mandelson suggested that the prosecutions stop until a proper dialogue could take place so as to avoid unnecessary escalation of the dispute at a time when the EU had already launched an enquiry into US actions following an RGA complaint made under EU Trade Barrier Regulations. The request is yet to be answered by the Bush Administration.

 Published on 12/17/2008

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