EU and U.S. reach compensation deal in WTO case

17 December 2007

BRUSSELS -- As reported by Reuters: "The European Commission dealt a blow to European online gaming companies on Monday when it accepted a U.S. offer of openings in other sectors to compensate for closing the U.S. gambling market to foreign firms.

"European companies such as PartyGaming and bwin Interactive Entertainment had hoped the European Union executive might shun a settlement and fight on instead to restore their ability to operate in the world's biggest market...

"A bilateral agreement was signed in Geneva, which provides EU service suppliers with new trade opportunities in the U.S. postal and courier, research and development, storage and warehouse sectors," the Commission said in a statement.

"The U.S. also made concessions in the testing and analysis services sector," the Commission said, adding it would still try to dissuade the United States from discriminating against foreign operators.

A representative of Europe's online gaming sector -- which saw billions of euros of market value wiped out by the U.S. restrictions -- said the announcement was a disappointment.

"The Commission can still press for an opening up of the market, but the leverage of the outstanding (compensation) negotiations has been taken away," said Clive Hawkswood, chief executive of the Remote Gambling Association.