EU Trade Commissioner in US to Discuss I-Gaming Ban

8 November 2007

EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson traveled to Washington, D.C., this week to hold talks with U.S. trade representatives and legislators over issues relating to the U.S. ban on Internet gambling.

In a press briefing held today, Nao Matsukata, former director of policy planning for the U.S. Trade Representative, said Mandelson is here to address a variety of issues relating to trade, not the least of which are the World Trade Organization case between the United States and Antigua and the resulting decision by the United States to withdraw gambling from its commitments to the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS).

Mandelson on Tuesday met with U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab to discuss negotiations over compensation owed to the European Union and other countries following the U.S. withdrawal of gambling services from GATS, Matsukata said.

Mandelson is also scheduled to meet with Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., today to discuss the legislative possibilities for Internet gambling regulation in the United States. Frank in April introduced the Internet Gambling Regulation and Enforcement Act, which proposes a licensing and taxation regime in the United States for both foreign and domestic operators.

"The fact that he's looking to the Hill is a very important shift in tactics here because he then now is really just looking at solving this particular issue because this particular issue must be done through a legislative vehicle." Matsukata said.

Lode Van Den Hende, a Brussels-based trade consultant from Herbert Smith LLP, added that the sole reason Mandelson is meeting with Frank is because of his bill.

"What's significant is that Mr. Mandelson is going to the Hill and opening up conversations with members of the Hill about possible legislative changes to the Antigua case, and consequently the compensation talks," Matsukata said.

Matsukata intimated that there may be a Senate introduction of Frank's bill toward the end of this session or the beginning of next session, though he was unsure who the Senate sponsor would be.

IGN will report further following the meeting between Mandelson and Frank.

Emily Swoboda is the senior staff writer at IGamingNews. She lives in St. Louis, Mo.