EU Gambling operators questioning U.S. DOJ


After the EU settled with the U.S. for expanded trade services European online gambling operators were pretty much left in the dust.

On Thursday those same operators accused the U.S. justice department of violating World Trade Organization rules by singling out foreign online gambling companies for prosecution, according to a story carried by Reuters.

"We have been left with no choice but to pursue all legal avenues available to challenge the U.S. Department of Justice for its discriminatory enforcement activities against European online gaming operators," said Clive Hawkswood, chief executive of the Remote Gambling Association (RGA), in a statement released by the organization.

The statement went on to accuse the DOJ of discrimination based on threatening and pressing criminal prosecutions, forfeitures and other enforcement actions against foreign online gaming operators while allowing domestic U.S. online gaming operators, primarily those offering horse race betting, to succeed.

On Monday the EU, along with Japan, Canada and Australia, entered into an agreement with the U.S. that would see compensation for banning foreign online gambling operators. The compensation came in the form of expanded EU service opportunities in research and development, postal and courier, storage and warehouse and testing and analysis services. The EU gaming industry was essentially left out in the cold.

The deal came about due to the passing of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) in October 2006. The act made it illegal for credit card companies and financial institutions to accept charges for online gambling. Since then most of the major European operators, like PartyPoker, have pulled out of the U.S. market.

"How would U.S. investors and businessmen feel if they invested in a business in the United Kingdom based on international law commitments, and then suddenly the U.K. not only passed new laws forcing them to shut down their business, but then [tried] to throw them in jail for past activities while still allowing their domestic competitors to continue on doing the same thing[?]" Hawkswood said in the statement. "That's what is happening to our industry in the U.S."

Earlier this week in a separate case regarding U.S. policy on foreign gambling operators, the WTO awarded Antigua $21 million in trade sanctions against the U.S.

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