WTO panel to investigate U.S. online gambling laws

In response to a request from Antigua and Barbuda, the World Trade Organization (WTO) has set up a panel to investigate whether U.S. restrictions on Internet gambling are in violation of international trade rules.

Previously the WTO had ruled that the Wire Act does not comply with WTO policy. The law prohibits placing bets across state lines by electronic means and telephone wires, making it illegal for U.S. citizens to place bets with online gambling companies in the Caribbean nation of Antigua and Barbuda, which Antigua and Barbuda argue violates trade agreements the country made when the WTO was formed.

Initially, the WTO gave the United States an April 3 deadline to change the laws accordingly. However, by the end of April, the United States still hadn't complied, and Antigua's council was informed that there would be no further negotiations.

The United States' position on the issue is that Internet gambling should be prohibited because it violates some state laws, and representatives told the WTO in April that the nation believes its laws are in compliance with trade rules.

In June, Antigua and Barbuda again invited the United States to discuss the WTO ruling in hopes of coming to an agreement. After those efforts failed, the WTO stepped in again by forming the panel to investigate the issue.

The panel has 90 days to investigate and report on U.S. compliance. After that, the decision can be appealed by either side.

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