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European Union Must Solve Its Own Online Gambling Dilemma

Written by:
C Costigan
Published on:
Feb/21/2009

The European Union has launched an investigation into U.S. action related to its clampdown on European online gambling operators, most of whom volunteered to exit the U.S. market following passage of Internet gambling prohibition in last 2006.  We say "voluntarily" since a number of online gambling operators still take business from Americans. 

Future plans might be for the European Union to file a formal complaint with the World Trade Organization, though that is a road they prefer not to travel.

"The report next month will back the EU's position, but the Commission intends to deliver its findings to Washington which it hopes will persuade the U.S. to start bilateral talks to find a solution without going to the WTO," one source told Reuters.

"A case would take a very long time tied up at the WTO and in the current spirit of avoiding protectionist moves in line with the G20 (Group of 20 emerging and industrial nations) statement, action should be avoided."

The European Commission, acting on an industry petition, began a formal investigation in March into whether Washington was singling out EU companies for enforcement actions while allowing U.S. online companies to operate freely.

The EU at times seems oblivious to the groundswell now taking place in the U.S. especially in the face of a spiraling economy, which might explain the later, though law enforcement in the States has hardly let up on Internet gambling websites (witness Bodog).

The Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act (UIGEA) is now under fire by both industry trade organizations like the Interactive Media Entertainment & Gaming Association (www.imega.org) and influential Congressman such as chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, Barney Frank, who this week promised legislation that would seek to repeal the UIGEA.  Gambling911.com is also learning of initiatives coming from the state levels like in California where legalized online poker seems inevitable by year's end. 

The EU of course has bigger problems in their own back yard to worry about.  A number of member countries have taken the same "protectionist" approach as the United States. 

Christopher Costigan, Gambling911.com Publisher        

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