US Internet Gambling WTO Compensation Negotiations Delayed Again

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Gretchen Hamel, spokesman for the US Trade Representative’s Office, has finally spoken, after Monday’s deadline when settlements were supposed to have been reached between the US and seven different members of the WTO. However, the Internet gambling community will have to stick to the edge of their seats a little longer because Hamel only spoke to announce that the deadline for settlements has been postponed until December 14th of this year.

“Each negotiation is proceeding at its own pace, and some are quite advanced. However, we have agreed to extend the negotiation period for all claimants,” Hamel told Reuters.

“In order to provide all parties with sufficient time to reach a successful resolution, the United States and the claimants have jointly agreed that these negotiations should be extended until December 14,” Hamel continued.

The United States is under heavy pressure from the tiny twin island nations of Antigua & Barbuda, who won their case, and all their appeals, that they brought against the US claiming they were breaking WTO trade violations with their new anti-online gambling laws.

The US then pulled a move unheard of in the WTO, they went in and retroactively changed the GATS, which is basically like signing a contract, then going back to the contract and changing it after all parties have signed.

This action by the US allowed all WTO members the ability to demand compensation from the States. Antigua has since demanded that the US pay up $3.4 billion in the form of suspended copyright laws. Rumors are that the EU has asked for $100 billion per year, but Hamel laughed at that comment.

Hamel also told Reuters that Antigua seems to be the only country that is going after this case full hearted-ly, meaning that they will not settle, they will let the arbitrators settle it.

Antigua believes that because they have beaten the US in several different stages at the WTO, that the WTO will see Antigua’s demands of compensation as justified.

Hamel believes all other nations will settle upon a reasonable solution

US Internet Gambling Regulation Gaining New Momentum

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Here is a list of business issues the United States is dealing with at the moment: the sub-prime mortgage crisis, a plummeting dollar, an imminent recession, rising homeowner’s insurance rates, skyrocketing oil prices, and Internet gambling enforcement. Wait, what? Internet gambling enforcement?

Yes, one of the major pressures on United States banks at the moment is enforcing a law that was sprung on them by former Senate majority leader, Bill Frist, in the closing moments of the 2006 senate session. The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA), only endorsed by right wing religious conservatives and attached to an unrelated Port Security Bill, puts the onus on banks to figure out what transactions on the Internet are illegal online gambling transactions, as opposed to legal ones.

Head of the House Financial Service Committee, Congressman Barney Frank, thinks this responsibility for banks to police online gambling is one of the “stupidest” things the United States congress has ever done.

As a result, Frank has announced a spring time hearing to figure out how to solve this issue.

“The banks have a lot of other things to worry about right now,” Frank said, “I don’t think poker should be one of them.”

Frank’s Bill HR 2046, the Internet Gambling Regulation and Enforcement Act (IGREA), currently has 46 co-sponsors and is gaining steam since it was brought to the table in the middle of 2007.

The IGREA would negate the UIGEA by allowing the formation of a regulatory committee to oversee Internet gambling. The UIGEA, which the IGREA is responding to, declares the banks responsible for monitoring illegal Internet gambling. Frank’s bill would also allow state’s to opt out. The Bill will be discussed at the Hearing.

In related news, Representative Jim McDermott this week announced a revised version of his Bill that would see billions of dollars in tax revenue raised from Internet gambling proceeds over the next ten years.

Earlier today iMEGA won its right to fight for their clients first amendment rights, which they believe the UIGEA violates.

Add the state of the United States economy at the moment and you will foresee the formation of a reversal in attitude towards online gambling in the United States.

In 2005 the United Kingdom passed the Gambling Act, which ruled online gambling to be legal and since 2007 the industry has been successfully managed and regulated in the UK. The United States is likely, at some point, to follow their example.