Issue N7, 2007

February 22, 2007

Antigua and Barbuda Petitions WTO Over U.S. Confidentiality Breech

The United States and Antigua/Barbuda have been fighting a four-year long legal battle over the former country’s restrictions regarding internet gambling. Antigua and Barbuda took the matter to the World Trade Organization over what they term as an unfair monopoly that the U.S. has over the horse-racing gambling industry in particular, by refusing to allow foreign countries to operate within U.S. borders. Recently, a preliminary report was sent to both parties, showing that the WTO would most probably vote in favor of Antigua and Barbuda’s claim.

The World Trade Organization specifically asked both sides of the dispute not to publish the preliminary report and to keep it confidential. However, Dr. Errol Cort, Antigua and Barbuda’s Minister of Finance and Economy petitioned the WTO with a complaint after it was found that United States officials leaked the report. “We’ve written to the WTO that while all parties were asked to remain confidential in terms of the interim report, we have kept our side, but the US has not,” said Cort. Since the complaint, the WTO repeated its request for all parties to keep a lid on any matters regarding the dispute until the final report was published later this year.

British Start Applying for Gambling Licenses

The British Gambling Commission announced this week that gambling establishments in the North East area should start applying for licenses if they wished to continue providing their services to the public. The British Gambling Act is due to come into force on September 1 of this year and until then, anyone who wishes to run betting shops, amusement arcades, casinos and even bingo halls needs to apply for a special license from the British Gambling Commission. For the first time in British history, all gambling and internet gambling businesses will be answerable to one regulatory body and be required to follow the new national laws.

All businesses are required to fulfill the requirements of three categories within the gambling licenses – operating, premises and personal. The Commission is responsible for issuing operating and personal licenses, while local councils will offer premises licenses (in the case of offline businesses). In addition, the businesses will need to fulfill the three main objectives of the Gambling Act – to keep minors and vulnerable individuals from being exploited by gambling, to maintain fair and open gambling practices and to divorce gambling from crime altogether. The Commission intends assessing individuals and businesses on five different levels before issuing a license: suitability, criminality, finances, identity and compliance with the Gambling Act’s objectives.

Neteller Starts to Lay Off Personnel

While the news was expected sooner or later, the internet gambling industry was still shocked to hear this week that the online payment processor, Neteller, was laying off at least 250 of its workers in the United Kingdom and Canada. Neteller has always been an industry leader in the payment field and was the number one choice for online casino gamblers who sought secure, discreet and painless funds transfer services for their online gambling entertainment needs.

Neteller was forced to discontinue its service for United States customers after the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act came into force last year. While the company initially continued providing services to U.S gamblers, it soon stopped this practice after two of its founding members were arrested in the country and charged with illegal gambling acts and money laundering. A Neteller spokesman said that the country was now looking to expand its businesses to Asia and Europe because its customer volume had decreased dramatically since it blocked US customers.

Great Future Predicted for Spanish Online Gambling Market

Results issued by a market research company showed a very bright future for the Spanish internet gambling industry. Research and Markets, an Irish research center predicted that by 2010, the Spanish online gambling market would be worth 4.2 billion GB Pounds – a growth of a whopping 240%!! There are several factors that have led to this growth trend. Firstly, new American anti-gambling laws have prompted online gambling operators to seek alternative markets, focusing their attentions on Europe and the Far East. In addition, the Spanish government is in the process of liberalizing its gambling laws – making this country a good choice for many operators.

Several top casino operators have already entered the Spanish gambling market. William Hill and Ladbrokes, two English bookmakers, have recently expanded into the Spanish market. Ladbrokes also partnered with a Spanish slot machine company, Cirsa Slot, while William Hill launched a Spanish online gambling site, powered by industry software giant, Cryptologic. The market research company predicted that the entire gambling industry is heading for a great future, with numbers reaching 39-billion Pounds by 2010. This is also expected to boost the Spanish economy considerably.