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With fantasy betting, US in further violation of international trade law

New York's decision to stop online fantasy sports betting is only the beginning. Right now, judicial involvement in the increasingly popular pastime has an impact on bettors and companies. But soon it could have an effect on international trade agreements.

Outside of fantasy betting, the current status of US legislation on online gambling has put it in violation of WTO agreements. There have been multiple decisions for the US to make remunerations until it comes into compliance.

Since 2000, the island nation of Antigua and Barbuda has repeatedly sued the US for having ambiguous laws regarding online gambling.

Early in the 90s, Antigua itself made a heavy bet on a business development zone. This zone was set up to encourage online gambling businesses to set up headquarters there. Early on, this zone benefitted from US patrons. However, since 1995, the US government has whacked away at online gambling in the US making it largely illegal.

There are handful of cases where online gambling is not illegal, but only for US companies. This amounts to preferential treatment to US companies, which violates free trade agreements.

Antigua has successfully lobbied the international trade authorities to rule against the US. Domestic legislation is inconsistent, outlawing most forms of online gambling but not all. Because of this, the WTO has approved retaliatory measures to force the US to comply.

State courts now recognize fantasy betting as gambling. Federal courts might need to follow suit. If they don't, it will be a double insult.

First, to the WTO. Not only has the US not come into compliance, it will create a new thriving industry in direct violation.

Second, the US will thumb its nose at smaller nations party to these agreements. It will show that larger nations can ignore the demands of their weaker counterparts. Even when they are vindicated by courts, they can still be snubbed by would-be partners.


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