US online gambling laws breach WTO rules, says EU

March 27th, 2009 - 6:17 am ICT by IANS  

Brussels, March 27 (Xinhua) The European Commission has said that US laws on Internet gambling breach World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules.
The executive body of the European Union (EU), said its investigation had found the US laws on online gambling and their enforcement against EU companies constitute an obstacle to trade that is inconsistent with WTO rules.

“The provisional conclusions of the report imply that WTO proceedings against US measures would be justified,” it warned.

But the commission said it prefers a negotiated solution.

“It is for the US to decide how best to regulate Internet gambling in its market, but this must be done in a way that fully respects WTO obligations. I am hopeful that we can find a swift, negotiated solution to this issue,” EU Trade Commissioner Catherine Ashton said in a statement Thursday.

The US Congress passed rules in 2006 that prohibit banks and credit card companies from making payments to online gambling sites.

The EU said the rules constitute a barrier to market access which has adverse effects on EU economic interests.

Furthermore, EU companies are discriminated since US firms are allowed to freely operate online gambling on horse racing in the US, while European companies and individuals cannot and even face legal action.

The commission launched a probe into the US rules in March 2008 after receiving a complaint from the Remote Gambling Association, an industry organisation.

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