WTO Rules Against Gambling Ban, US to Appeal

Story Text:

Update: The WTO have ruled against banning Americans from gambling online, but will appeal. The FT cover it here: Antigua, US both claim win in WTO gambling row and the BBC here: WTO rules against US gambling ban You can grab a copy of the WTO ruling in PDF here.


Today's New Media Age magazine (print edition) is covering the news that American's may be able to gamble online.

The tiny Caribbean country of Antigua and Barbuda are in a battle with the US over their right to take bets from US punters. The World Trade Organisation is expected to deliver its verdict later today.

The lead legal consul for for Antigua, Mark Mendel, was sure that it would prevail after the recent final submission to the WTO's Appellate Body in Geneva. "I'm confident", he said. "We felt we handled the questions well."

For anyone that operates in the gambling industry I am sure they are aware of the difficult and (some would say) Draconian laws in place restricting US punters from gambling.

If the US loses this case (and it is looking likely they will) it will have the effect of effectively legalising online gambling to US punters allowing a host of new major entrants to target the underground betting population in the US.

I am sure that there are many here who market every conceivable gambling method there is online and I wonder how you are preparing for the change in the marketplace. Will Ladbrokes, William Hill and others entering a market they have had to leave alone add awareness and therefore sales to you or will it simply strangle an already overly competitive and black hat marketplace?



I too think that the U.S. will loose but the businesses are already running from off shore. They just may bring them to the U.S. to save costs and certain logistical nightmares.


Can we get a url for the story jason?

Don't expect any significant online changes

The gambling keywords and serps aren't changing and neither are the top affiliates. As Mackin says the only possible change would be logistics. I doubt even think there will be a big change there, because running your gambling business offshore allows you to avoid alot of taxes. You will probably see more offline mainstream channels opening up.



Sorry Nick, No URL for the source i got it from as it was a print magazine.

Now the WTO have handed down their decision the FT is covering it here

From the FT:

Both tiny Antigua and the United States claimed to have come up trumps on Thursday in a row over whether Washington can ban U.S. punters from gambling in offshore Internet casinos.

and then

But Mark Mendel, lead lawyer for Antigua, disagreed. “The only way they can keep the laws is if they ban all types of remote gambling, both inside and outside the country, and I cannot see them doing that,” he told Reuters.

Washington had argued that the laws, which ban payment for bets by credit cards or cheques issued by U.S. banks or by bank transfers, are part of an effort to protect vulnerable sections of society from the dangers linked to gambling.

The BBC have a nice round up too

I'll see if I can dig up the ruling.


Thanks Jason, i was confused as there was a "source title" but no link :)

I've gone through several title changes and put an update in, it took me a while to work out if the US could or could not gamble online....


I've printed off the ruling and waiting for someone to read it and give me an executive summary. Until then I am as confused as the next guy!

No appeal

Contrary to the first post, there is no appeal available.

Times Online: Antigua wins big in online gambling case

Las Vegas Sun has a good story

WTO slams U.S. Net-gambling ban

Some other stories are going with the US spin.

there is no appeal available.

Well sort of, they can just say they want to change the rules though.

I'm of mixed opinions but ultimatly I think that the law of soverign nations should be respected. If you ilve in the US and want to gamble online either a) vote it in or b) move.

Flames to the usual address.


There is no US Federal law prohibiting gambling online, and court opinions say so, so there is nothing to "vote in". Some states prohibit it though.

The issue here involves foriegn operators, not domestic players.


The issue here involves foriegn operators, not domestic players

Which has to be a breech of normal, sensible fair and open trading laws that the US agreed to.

I guess that's why the WTO ruleed the way they did

i don't get it

- what's this about US people not being allowed to gamble? I thought Las Vegas was in the US? Is it illegal for US citizens to gamble if it is online? And what has the WTO got to do with American interior politics?

Sorry, i haven't followed this issue at all, it's really a mystery to me - can anyone shed a little light on it? What's the core of the matter here?

it's really a mystery to me

Me too!

I thought that as a general rule gambling is illegal in the US, save for the exception of a couple of states [putting reservations aside]. Is that how it is?

Many local laws, few national laws

There are many local laws which forbid gambling. However once you cross state borders, it then requires a federal (national) law. Since you historically could only gamble in person, there are fewer national laws governing this. Now add international trade to the situation and you have a very ill-defined legal situation dealing with gambling.

One reason the US is not happy with offshore gambling is (come on, you can guess it) TAXES. Offshore internet gambling decreases the tax that can easily be collected.

Also don't forget that US laws were created by puritanical people that Europe kicked out of their countries because they didn't let anyone have fun. (thanks europe)


>There are many local laws which forbid gambling. However once you cross state borders, it then requires a federal (national) law.

Wouldn't that take you in to the next state law?

referring to interstate commerce

If I am in New York and I buy something from California website and it is shipped from Bermuda, what law applies?

you historically could only gamble in person

...does that include gambling with somebody elses money? *lol*

Thanks goodroi. I still don't understand the core of the matter, though. Is it the case that US national laws prohibits gambling, and that the WTO wants to allow it, or?

I would think that if they legalized it in stead, some of those off-shore money would return home. But that's just rational thinking, and laws aren't always rational, i know.


>If I am in New York and I buy something from California website and it is shipped from Bermuda, what law applies?

If it were me I would say focus on the "If I am in New York" part of the equation. Are you saying that if you were in, lets say Saudi Arabia, and went online to order booze from an Albanian website that shipped from Pluto you would be cool?


Some form of gambling exists in every one of the United States except Utah and Hawaii.

Some US states allow legal horsebetting, but the US governement has taken the position that a legally licensed sportsbook in Antigua can not operate with the same legal standing as the US companies. It's as if Google could sell text ads to a Peoria company, but a German based search engine could not.

Currently Google and Yahoo will not sell ads to these legal Antigua businesses due to pressure from the US government. From a logic standpoint the ruling is obvious.


Well, we have horse racing here (Utah) and there's a lot of betting on same, though it's not "legal" of course.... but then, there's so MUCH stuff that's "not kosher" in Utah but is still "done", that's only a drop in the bucket....

i'm not saying its cool, i'm just saying its a problem

hey NFFC,

I was trying to demonstrate the difficulty of defining location and applying current laws to it. As for your Saudi Arabia example, it would be cool as long as you slap a diplomatic sticker on your booze and ship it to your embassy. "Excuse me Mr. Ambassador there is a Mr. Jack Daniel waiting for you in your office :)"

Gambling Laws

I know this is not news, but I noticed that the explanation on US gambling laws was sorely lacking.

As has been pointed out, each US State has its own laws regarding gambling, some states like Nevada(Las Vegas) allow just about all forms of gambling then there are states like Utah and Hawaii that do not allow gambling of any kind.

Where online gambling runs into problems in the US is a little federal law called the Wire Wager Act of 1961.


US Federal law controlls telephone communication as the "telephone lines" cross state borders.

This national law in effect makes it illegal to place any bet or wager over a “telephone line”.

As you can see the law came before the web, but the law is still on the books and US Federal Authorities (Dept. of Justice) have determined that all online gambling involves placing bets over a telephone line and therefore is illegal.

The DOJ has also decided to lump all forms of data transmission into the category "Telephone Line".

The interpretation and enforcement of the Wire Wage Act in the US has much more to do with radical religion than protecting the public, in my opinion.

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