WTO maintains U.S. gambling ban illegal

The World Trade Organization has once again sided with Antigua and Barbuda, ruling that the U.S. online gambling ban unfairly targets offshore Internet casinos.

The U.S. hasn't changed October's Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act to comply with a previous ruling by the trade body, opening itself up to potential commercial sanctions against the country, the global trade body said Friday.

The Caribbean island nation maintains that online gambling revenue provides jobs - now in jeopardy because of the ban on payments to offshore sites - for hundreds of its citizens.

A three-member WTO panel agreed in a 215-page report, which says that Washington can uphold its gambling restrictions as long as its laws are applied to American remote horse-race betting operators.

"It vindicates all that we have been saying for years about the discriminatory trade practices of the United States in this area, and we look forward to the United States opening its markets," Antiguan Finance Minister Errol Cort said in a release.

The U.S., meanwhile, it still clinging to results from a 2005 WTO decision that recognized its right to block offshore betting to protect public order and morals.

"We are currently reviewing our options," a spokeswoman for Washington told Bloomberg news service, noting that nothing in the report undermines the organization's previous decision.

The markets responded to Friday's news with boosts to both PartyGaming, Plc. and 888 Holdings shares.

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