WTO Panel expected to convene Monday

A three-member panel has been selected to examine U.S. laws and regulations regarding online gambling to determine if the nation has taken steps to comply with an the World Trade Organization's (WTO) ruling that the laws must be changed to fall in line with trade rules. The panel is expected to convene Monday in Geneva to begin its investigation into the matter.

The first meeting will be an organizational one meant mainly to determine the scope of the panel's task and to establish the work program it will follow. The panel is mandated to review the matter and give its decision within 90 days.

Dr. Errol Cort, the Antigua and Barbuda Minister of Finance and the Economy, expressed his satisfaction that progress is being made at the WTO in the tiny island nation's complaint that the U.S. hasn't complied with the WTO's ruling in the Internet gaming dispute.

Antigua and Barbuda brought the matter to the WTO previously, pointing out that U.S. laws like the Wire Act and other regulations that make online gambling in the United States illegal are in violation of trade regulations the nation agreed to when the WTO was formed. The WTO panel found that Antigua and Barbuda was right and gave the United States an April 2006 deadline to comply with the regulations.

The United States failed to comply with the ruling and later refused to take any action claiming its laws don't violate trade regulations.

Antigua and Barbuda has invited the United States to talk about the issue and try to settle it since then, but talks broke down and the WTO had to be brought in again to settle the matter.

While the panel once again looks into the U.S.'s laws and policies regarding online gambling, Cort said the Antigua and Barbuda government will remain open to talking with the United States in case there is a possibility of a mutually satisfactory solution.

For more information about the panel, please read WTO Panel to Investigate U.S. Online Gambling Laws.

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