April 7th, 2005 (Antigua) - Antigua today expressed surprise at claims of victory by US trade representatives in the online gaming sportsbooks WTO case between the two countries.
.The Appellate Body recommended that the WTO cause the US laws to be brought in conformity with the GATS,. said Mark Mendel, lead legal counsel for Antigua, reacting to US claims of victory in the case. .The ruling also notes that, in effect, the US laws discriminate against foreign commerce. Unless the US wishes to repeal all of its laws that currently permit any form of domestic remote gambling and adopt laws to affirmatively prohibit it in all forms country-wide, then they will have to provide Antiguan online gaming companies fair access to the US market..
The WTO Appellate Body clearly upholds key elements of the initial ruling in favor of Antigua. However, the US has interpreted the ruling as allowing the US ban on foreign online gambling activity to remain in place. Although a portion of the initial ruling was reversed by the appellate group, the overall result remains substantially the same . in Antigua.s favor.
Evidence of the Antigua triumph is further indicated by the Panel.s findings that the US made a commitment with respect to gambling and betting services under the General Agreement on Trade in Services (or .GATS.); that key federal laws are contrary to those commitments and violate the .market access. provision of the GATS; and that the US did not meet its complete burden of proof under its claimed Article XIV .morals. defense to Antigua.s claims.
The US has said that the WTO reversed a number of important rulings. In fact the only substantive part of the report that the Appellate Body reversed was the finding that the lack of consultations between the US and Antigua meant that the US had not met the .necessity. burden under Article XIV.
However, the Appellate Body ruled that the US had not met their burden of proof, under the second part of Article XIV. The US failed to show that their laws were not discriminatory in practice. In failing to present a valid argument in respect of the second part of Article XIV, their defence has been deemed to fail overall in the eyes of the WTO.
Russ Hawkins CEO, MajorWager.com