The European Commission team flying to Washington soon to meet with US officials in an investigation into alleged discriminatory laws targeting online gambling companies (see previous InfoPowa reports) will be headed by senior EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson.
The results of the meeting, together with answers to a questionnaire sent to a variety of American political and business bodies and due for return by June 23rd will inform the Commission's decision on whether to launch further action against the United States as requested by the UK-based Remote Gaming Association early this year.
The complaint specifies protectionist and discriminatory trade practices by US authorities such as the Department of Justice which have prejudiced companies and individual businessmen prior to the unilateral withdrawal by the US of its gambling obligations to the World Trade Organisation.
The RGA is confident that it has a strong case and that the US has breached the WTO treaty, says CEO Clive Hawkswood, opining that a negotiated settlement is the more likely outcome than another round of WTO litigation.
“The simplest approach would be for the US to give some kind of undertaking that they won’t prosecute or pursue people involved with the European [Internet gambling] industry for taking bets while this treaty was in place,” he said this week.
Hawkswood has also made the point that the RGA complaint may more widely publicise the behaviour of the US Administration: “So a wider group of opinion holders in the US will ask what are we protecting here if we are falling out with the European Union and other trading partners?” he said.