Remote Gambling Association presses US on online casinos

The Remote Gambling Association (RGA), the body representing European online casinos, filed a complaint against US with the European Commission, alleging that the passage of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act in 2006 effectively restrained trade and acted as a protectionist action.

The complaint added that this UIGEA passage allowed US interests to continue activities forbidden to overseas competitors. Certainly there is ample evidence of the damage done by the Congressional action. The day after the bill was tacked on the end of a port security bill by outgoing Senator Bill Frist, passing without review or debate, shares in Internet casinos traded publicly on the London Stock Exchange plummeted.

Partygaming stock dropped over 58% in a single day. Sportingbet fell 64%. Both companies are currently worth less than a fifth of their pre-UIGEA value. Further, these and other online gaming businesses have found company executives harassed and arrested by American legal representatives.

Meanwhile, the RGA asserts that online gambling occurs frequently within the US free from prosecution. Horse racing in particular enjoys exemptions the Europeans find unreasonable.

Considering that PartyGaming alone estimates it had almost a million American patrons, damages due these companies if the US is found guilty of trade infringements and violations of treaties will make the millions owed Antigua look like pennies.

The next step in the European investigation is the arrival of a team of investigators in mid-September. Word is that the delegation may have difficulty even contacting the US Trade Representative, in which case legal proceedings against the United Stated may soon begin.