At least that's my read of today's World Trade Organization (WTO) decision on Antigua's complain regarding Internet gambling. The findings and conclusions can be found here
. The full (146 page) decision can be found here
The key conclusions appear to be:
"[The Appellate body] modifies the Panel's conclusion in paragraph 7.2(d) of the Panel Report and finds, instead, that the United States has demonstrated that the Wire Act, the Travel Act, and the Illegal Gambling Business Act are measures 'necessary to protect public morals or maintain public order'...."
"The Appellate Body recommends that the Dispute Settlement Body request the United States to bring its measures, found in this Report and in the Panel Report as modified by this Report to be inconsistent with the General Agreement on Trade in Services, into conformity with its obligations under that Agreement."
In other words, we'd like you to allow Internet gambling through Antigua, but you don't have to if you don't want to. Now, I'm not an attorney, nor a student of quasi-governmental legalese; however, Chuck Humphrey (of http://www.gambling-law-us.com
) is reviewing the decision and he will be posting his view on his website either later this week or next week.
The only problem that the WTO had with US law is that certain horse-racing bets may be made on an interstate basis but are not allowed to be placed internationally. Indeed, the US Department of Justice complained when this law was enacted. There appear to be two methods of resolving this problem: the law can be amended to allow international betting, or the law could be repealed.
As I mentioned previously
, this was a no win case for those of us who play online and are US residents. I think this was the better decision for the poker world; a victory for Antigua would have probably led to Congress thumbing its' nose at the WTO by enacting a complete Internet gambling ban. There's a good chance that Congress will continue to do nothing. Unfortunately, should Congress decide to make the Wire Act stricter (or should the courts interpret the Wire Act as banning Internet gambling), that will be that.