Could the World Trade Organisation Save Online Poker?

November 12, 2009 |

Reports are circulating in British newspapers that top online poker executives have been in talks with Antiguan authorities discussing the possibility of mounting a combined legal challenge against the ‘Unlawful Internet Gambling Act’ passed recently.

Several key players from the online gaming industry have been in Antigua discussing all the options and possibilities available to them, many of which have had large amounts wiped from their stock price.

The World Trade Organization (WTO) ruled against the U.S. in a case last year. The Antiguan authorities stated that the U.S. did not comply with WTO rules in relation to their position with online gaming. It is believed the U.S. have still to fully respond to the compliance order and with the introduction of the new act have actually further contravened the WTO order.

Antiguan representatives have stated that the new ‘Unlawful Internet Gambling Act’ passed by the U.S. was “as contrary to the decision of the WTO in our case as can possibly be imagined” and “puts the United States on a direct collision course with the WTO”.

A WTO panel will meet in November to examine whether the U.S. have complied with the initial ruling. The U.S. lost the first hearing and then following an appeal the original decision was upheld. Given the fact that the U.S. have failed so far to comply with the first WTO ruling, a collision with the WTO may not overly concern the U.S. authorities.

Adding to the awaiting Antigua case, reports also suggest that a number of other U.K. based gaming companies are contemplating their own separate WTO action against the U.S.

Regardless of the outcome online gaming companies are not sitting back and will be proactively fighting against the ‘Unlawful Internet Gambling Act’ and will do everything they can to once again allow them to take U.S. customers.

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