U.S., Costa Rica reach net gambling settlement

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According to the Tico Time in Costa Rica, the United States and Costa Rica have come to a settlement agreement with regard to the United States pulling out of its World Trade Organization obligations involving online gambling.

As compensation for not allowing online gambling companies based in Costa Rica access to U.S. customers, the United States has offered Costa Rica greater access to other service markets, including research and development, storage, technical testing and analysis.

This is similar to the settlements the United States has reached with Canada, Japan and the European Union in the matter.

Costa Rica's settlement took place after the country had filed for arbitration before the World Trade Organization, when it didn't look like the United States and Costa Rica would be able to find agreeable terms.

"The agreement has been satisfactory for the country," said Foreign Trade Minister Marco Ruiz in a written statement.

The United States has been under fire in the WTO for its online gambling laws since Antigua and Barbuda asked the organization to look into it a few years ago.

The WTO eventually ruled that the United States was in violation of trade regulations it had agreed to when it became a part of the WTO. Although countries are allowed to protect their residents from products and services they consider to be a threat, they have to do so in a fair, unilateral manner.

While the United States has argued that it does not allow online gambling because of the social ills that come with gambling, it does still allow states to provide lottery services online and horse race betting online is permitted.

Because of the WTO ruling, Antigua and Barbuda was able to ask for damages in the case until the United States brings its laws in line with the WTO trade regulations.

Rather than changing its laws, the United States has chosen to alter its agreement with the WTO to exclude online gambling. By doing so, it opened itself up to compensation claims from any country where online gambling companies are headquartered.

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