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Online Gambling News from Regulatory Authorities

By: Adam Baker, Thursday February 16th 2012
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Two regulatory authorities dealing with online gambling have made important but differing announcements. Antigua and Barbuda is the world's oldest regulatory jurisdiction and the Danish Gambling Authority the latest.

The government of Antigua and Barbuda will be resurrecting its eight year old dispute with the United States. This announcement was made on February 15 by the Finance and Economy Minister Harold Lovell. The dispute relates to a judgment delivered in favor of Antigua by the WTO, which the United States has steadfastly refused to honor. The Minister said that in the coming days, the government would consult with appropriate officials and legal counsel to determine the best way forward for the people and the online gambling industry of Antigua. Antigua has a number of options at the WTO with which to push the recalcitrant American government into compliance. Lovell pointed out that Antigua had played by the rules and had earned a hard-fought and fair victory. He added, "It is high time that the United States do what it routinely expects from its own trading partners - comply with WTO law and rulings." Last minute negotiations with United States officials also cannot be ruled out.

Antigua had appealed to the WTO that certain US federal and state laws making online gambling illegal were against the international agreements on trade. In a landmark decision, issued after years of negotiations, argument and dispute hearings, the WTO had ruled that these laws were discriminatory, inequitable and in violation of America's international treaty obligations. The WTO had further ruled that Antiguan operators offering online gambling services to American consumers had been financially harmed and had asked the US to pay compensation. The dispute led to the US government unilaterally withdrawing from its WTO obligations concerning gambling.

The Danish gambling market opened on January 1, 2012 and the Danish Gambling Authority has made it clear that it wants to keep illegal operators out. One of the actions it is taking is encouraging whistle blowing. In that respect it has published an advisory outlining what constitutes an illegal gambling website, the consequences of providing illegal gambling and how to report illegal operators. A dedicated e-mail address has been provided for this purpose and citizens and companies have been asked to file complaints enclosing documentation like screen dumps.

The advisory says that an online gambling website is illegal when it is directed towards the Danish market. Some indicators of this are that the web site is in Danish, it offers customer service in Danish, and accepts Danish currency. The following action will be taken against illegal online gambling operators. They will first receive a notice of contravention and of ceasing to provide illegal online gambling in Denmark. Then customers' access to the illegal website will be denied, transfer of funds will be blocked and the violation will be reported to the police.

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