World Trade Experts Urge the US to Embrace Online Gaming Bill

by Lou on September 26, 2007

At a press Brussels press conference earlier today, international trade experts including Naotaka Matsukata, former director of policy planning for the US trade Representative, and Mark Mendel, the attorney who represents Antigua before the World Trade Organization (WTO), claimed that the United States might face trade penalties of $100 billion—yes, that’s billions-with-a-“B”—if it cannot extricate itself from its online gaming conundrum with Antigua and the European Union.

“The $3.4 billion claim by Antigua and the much larger claim of over $100 billion by the seven other economies seeking compensation are some of the largest penalties in the history of the WTO,” said Matsukata. “This is by far the most significant WTO case ever and its implications for both the US and the EU are enormous. Given the size of the US gaming market, both the potential benefit for European industry and the corresponding potential damage to US companies is unprecedented.”

In addition to Antigua and the European Union, Macau, India, and Australia are also seeking compensation because of US actions.

Jeffrey Sandman, of the Safe and Secure Internet Gambling Initiative, urged the US to embrace Barney Frank’s internet gambling bill. According to Sandman, “Rather than face paying billions in trade compensation, the US should embrace the legislative solution presented by the Frank bill.”

Although the US has threatened to withdraw from its WTO commitments in its dispute with Antigua, it has much more to lose than to gain by such an action, and could weaken its claims against China at the WTO. Walking away from WTO obligations might even open the door to Antigua receiving WTO backing for abrogating copyright protection and revoking trademark and intellectual property agreements between the two countries.

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