WTO confirms U.S. loss in Internet gambling case

GENEVA Fri Mar 30, 2007 4:58pm BST

GENEVA (Reuters) - The World Trade Organisation (WTO) on Friday confirmed its ruling the United States had done nothing to abide by an earlier verdict that labelled some U.S. Internet gambling restrictions as illegal.

In a published version of findings in a complaint brought by Antigua and Barbuda, initially sent to the parties in January, the Geneva-based trade referee said the Caribbean island had provided additional evidence that strengthened its case.

"The panel concludes that the United States has failed to comply with the recommendations and rulings of the (WTO's) DSB (Dispute Settlement Body)," the WTO said in the ruling, which can be appealed.

At issue was an April 2005 WTO verdict against U.S. prohibitions on online betting, notably on horse racing. Since then, the U.S. Congress has passed additional legislation to ban betting over the Internet.

Antigua has built up an online gambling industry to make up for declining revenues from tourism.

"This is a smashing success for Antigua in every possible way. The report will sweep away any lingering doubt that Antigua has obtained a clear and convincing win over the United States in this matter," said John W. Ashe, Antigua's ambassador to the WTO. There was no immediate reaction from Washington.

In the ruling, the WTO panel of three trade judges said that the United States had not contested the Antiguan charge that it had done nothing to implement the 2005 ruling.

Instead, Washington had simply sought to re-open the case, but without giving the panel any grounds to do so, it said.

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