UIGEA, in violation of international free trade agreements

Following a complaint filed by the Remote Gambling Association (RGA), the European Commission presented its critical report on the “Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act” in the United States. The least we can say is that Brussels gives right to international association and dares to call the law “contrary to free trade rules”. It must be said that the UIGEA concerns particularly gambling operation based in Europe. So, the struggle goes on…

Mid-June, the “Guardian of the UE Treaties” published a report on U.S. laws on online gambling and its hardening provisions for European companies. The report is the result of an one-year investigation conducted in U.S. The object of the investigation was not only the current law, but also its reform and the effects it would have on online games suppliers.

The juridical battle on American gaming market involves another powerful organization, which has the right to punish its disobedient members. This is the World Trade Organization; both U.S. and Eu member states adhered to its agreements. On the European ground, UE may reprove its members claiming the violation of Treaties’ provisions such as the freedom to provide services within its territory. As for the U.S., the European Commission only could call the international agreements. Thus, the EC claims that U.S. measures impede free trade and are contrary to the WTO rules. At the same time, the report suggests they can resolve the disagreement by negotiating with the new administration.

“Online gambling is a complex and critical issue, and we don’t want to dictate to the United States the method for regulating the market” the Commissioner of the Chamber of Commerce said. “However, the United States must comply with WTO rules. I hope we will be able to find an amicable solution”.

The report approached, of course, the alarmist claim of the Remote Gambling Association. Filed on 11th March 2008, it stated that the UIGEA denies access to foreign funds and discriminates radically all foreigners wishing to play or wager in the United States. Nevertheless, in 2006, the most of the European companies decided to act on their own and left the U.S. market. But they still suffer from lawsuits for their past activities on this market. Therefore, the report also concludes that the prosecutions are not legally justified and they are discriminatory.

The European Commission now seeks a solution consistent with international agreements through a dialogue with American administration.

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