US Concedes Defeat in WTO Online Gambling Case

The US has conceded defeat by declining to appeal Antigua’s victory at the World Trade Organization (WTO) and has announced they are withdrawing their treaty obligations with respect to gambling and betting services.

Article’s emerged online this week reporting that the European Union, Brazil, and India delegations have thrown their support behind the Antiguan delegation in their WTO online gambling action against the US.

Antigua’s Ambassador to the WTO, Dr. John W. Ashe, delivered a statement to the WTO membership this week, stating the US tactic of simply changing their commitments was not going to work: “There is something clearly wrong with the concept that after a long, difficult struggle covering years of dispute resolution at the WTO an offending member could ultimately avoid the consequences of its loss by withdrawing the commitment that gave rise to the claim in the first place.  As far as we are concerned, our dispute has been resolved and the United States remains obligated to comply.”

The Brazilian delegation declared its full support of the Antiguan position, pointing out that the actions of the US in this case can threaten the integrity of the entire dispute resolution system.  India had similar concerns, and the EU was disappointed that the US had failed to engage Antigua over the provision of gambling services.

The WTO decision means all WTO members who consider themselves adversely affected by the US withdrawal can file claims against the US.  Under WTO rules, any member can file a claim for damages against the US, all of which must either be resolved by negotiation or arbitration before the US can actually withdraw their commitment.  These claims can potentially run into billions of dollars, and may result in unrelated US producers being unfairly sanctioned by being hit with trade barriers from economic giants such as the European Union.  Furthermore, China and other countries may take advantage of the United States’ embarrassing withdrawal in future WTO cases by choosing to ignore WTO rulings just like the US has done by simply altering their stated commitments.

“While we will not know until the filing deadline in mid-June,” said Mark Mendel, Antigua’s legal advisor in the case.  “We have heard rumblings that substantial trading partners such as the EU are seriously considering filing claims for compensatory adjustments.  The potential adverse impact upon completely unrelated American business interests could be massive.”

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