Countries seek compensation from US over its intention to withdraw GATS gaming commitments

34 WTO Members (Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, Canada, Costa Rica, the EU on behalf of its 27 Member States, India, Japan, and Macou) have filed requests for compensation from the US over its intention to withdraw GATS gaming commitments. The most important provisions of the GATS only apply to the extent that a WTO Member has “opted in” for a particular sector or, in GATS language, “made a specific commitment”. In a WTO dispute settlement case brought by Antigua, the Appellate Body found that the US has made such a specific commitment for gambling and betting services. By consequence, the US is not allowed to discriminate against foreign gambling operators, for instance by prohibiting crossborder Internet gambling while allowing it internally for horse race betting.

However, on 4 May 2007, the US announced its intention to withdraw a commitment made under the General Agreement on Trade in Services (“GATS”) concerning “gambling and betting services”. This announcement followed the US’s loss in a WTO dispute settlement case brought by Antigua on the cross-border supply of Internet gambling services. All WTO Members are entitled to request additional access to other US markets, by way of compensation for the withdrawal of this commitment. 34 WTO Member countries have effectively done so. These WTO Members now have three months to negotiate with the US with a view to reaching agreement. This period can be extended. If no agreement is reached on the compensation, any of the these Members can refer the matter to arbitration. All the Members who filed requests for compensation can participate in that arbitration.