WTO Calls US Online Gambling Ban 'Illegal'

The World Trade Organization is pushing back against Internet gambling restrictions passed by United States, saying Friday it had ruled that the provision was illegal. The US will have the option to appeal.

A complaint was brought before the group by Antigua and Barbuda, where many offshore online casinos are located. It stems from a 2005 verdict by the WTO that ruled some of the US' restrictions ran afoul of WTO policies.

"The Panel concludes that the United States has failed to comply with the recommendations and rulings of the [Dispute Settlement Body] in this dispute," the compliance board ruled.

While Antigua called the ruling a "smashing success" for the country, which has built a industry out of online betting, the US government acknowledged the ruling was a setback.

It is not immediately clear whether the Bush administration would even pay attention to the ruling: its past actions in dealing with world bodies have shown the US government strongly resists any attempts to interject in its policies.

32 online casinos exist in the island country, and once had yearly revenues of nearly a billion dollars. However, restrictive policies like that of the United States have harmed its business, and now the casinos make around $130 million per year.

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