April 8, 2005 in Business

Some limits OK’d on Internet gambling

Associated Press

GENEVA – The United States can keep some restrictions on Internet gambling, a World Trade Organization appeals panel said Thursday, but also concluded that some U.S. legislation discriminates against foreign operators.

Both sides – the twin-island nation of Antigua and Barbuda in the Caribbean and the United States – claimed victory in the dispute over whether Washington should drop prohibitions on Americans placing bets in online casinos.

In its 138-page report, the appeals panel said the United States had demonstrated that the 1961 Wire Communications Act – which was written to cover sports betting by telephone and has been used to prosecute some Web site operators – “was necessary to protect public morals or maintain public order.”

But the panel found against Washington in another respect, saying it failed to show that the Interstate Horseracing Act was applied equally to foreign and domestic remote betting services. Unequal application of the law would contravene international trade rules.

Mark Mendel, legal counsel for Antigua in the case, said the WTO ruling means U.S. authorities will have to treat Antiguan online casinos in the same way as traditional gambling outlets.

“At the end of the day, Antigua continues to win,” Mendel told The Associated Press.

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