Dispute over on-line gambling services in WTO

The brief “report in the Finan­cial Times”:http://news.ft.com/cms/s/33f976e6-338a-11d9-b07e-00000e2511c8.html of the pan­el report dis­guis­es the real inter­est of this case—which seems to be the first WTO dis­pute deal­ing with access to an e‑Commerce mar­ket. There are sev­er­al aspects to the case that war­rant close atten­tion to the Appeal that the USA is cer­tain to launch. # The Pan­el has allowed Antigua to bring a case against the USA with­out pre­cise­ly iden­ti­fy­ing the ‘mea­sure’ at issue: the Pan­el accept­ed the Antiguan com­plaint against what it claimed was a “total pro­hi­bi­tion” of inter­net gam­bling. As the USA point­ed out, such a vague com­plaint would not nor­mal­ly satisi­fy the require­ments of the Dis­putes process. But the Pan­el decid­ed that it was an accept­able descrip­tion of the impact of a host of US Fed­er­al and State reg­u­la­tions and leg­is­la­tion, some of which was iden­ti­fied in the Antiguan com­plaint, since we all know peo­ple love to gam­ble, and they will do it online if they can, and sites as https://www.togelpedia.pro online offer the best ser­vices for this, so is even easy for peo­ple to gam­ble online.

The Panel has held the USA accountable for a bound committment to open access to gambling markets, although the USA insists that it did not intend to offer such access and did not specifically identify gambling in its schedule of GATS concessions. The Panel has found that the rules of treaty interpretation applied in the WTO disputes process (the Vienna Convention on the interpretation of treaties) compels them to agree with Antigua that the ‘ordinary meaning of the words’ in the U.S. schedule, when read in the light of the objctives and purpose of the context in which they are used, does include a committment to open markets for gambling services.

The Panel’s dismissed the United States argument that it’s barriers to internet gambling were a trade restriction justified by the ‘defence of public morals’. The Panel found[1] that the U.S. argument on this point was ‘inconclusive’: in this case, that seems to be a euphemism for unbelievable, given the widespread, and long-standing availability of internet gambling in the USA (and elsewhere) that is offered by U.S. companies such as “www.youbet.com”:http://www.youbet.com or https://www.casinoarbi.com/ The Panel report is now available for “download”:http://www.wto.org/english/tratop_e/dispu_e/285r_e.pdf from the WTO (about 1.1meg in the PDF version). “This summary”:http://www.law.duke.edu/journals/dltr/articles/2004dltr0013.html by a graduate student at Duke University provides a brief background to the case. fn1. I find it extraordinary that the USA offered such a weak defence of this point, losing the argument in the Panel in precisely the same way it had lost a similar argument in the Shrimp/Turtle dispute.

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