U. S. Appeal of WTO Decision on Foreign Gaming Gains Support

The International Federation of Horseracing Authorities, headquartered in Paris, France, has welcomed the decision by the U. S. government to appeal against the recent World Trade Organization ruling overturning the U. S. ban on foreign gambling services.

The Caribbean island of Antigua started proceedings at the WTO against the U. S. for its ban and a WTO panel ruled in November last year that the U. S. laws are in conflict with US international trade commitments.

The U.S. trade representative announced on Jan. 7 plans to appeal the verdict, with a spokesman calling the WTO decision "deeply flawed."

Louis Romanet, the IFHA president and director general of the French racing authority France Galop, commented: "We strongly support national integrity over betting policies and rules. These policies should not be left to international bodies and the principles of free trade. Gambling is simply not a service like any other, but has to be regulated according to the specific perceptions of moral, public order and consumer protection in each individual country."

Alan Marzelli, IFHA vice president and the Jockey Club CEO, added: "In addition to our concerns over national integrity, we are also displeased about the lack of Intellectual property rights protection in Antigua. Betting companies can operate from these islands while pirating our racing data. There is no excuse for hosting Web sites that do not pay any license for the horseracing data upon which they base their business model."

The IFHA plans to call upon WTO member states, in particular Japan, Canada, Chinese Taipei, the European Union and Mexico, to support the U. S. in its appeal.