EU Trade Delegation Makes Landfall in U.S.

15 September 2008

Following a contentious and lengthy run-up, a European Union trade delegation has made landfall in the United States to discuss America's oft-criticized I-gaming policy.

This week, members of the delegation -- which include Jean-Francois Brakeland, who heads the European Commission's dispute settlement office -- will meet with the United States trade representative to discuss the Trade Barriers Regulation complaint filed by the United Kingdom's Remote Gambling Association, or RGA, in December 2007.

The RGA, a London trade association, has alleged the United States violated the General Agreement on Trade in Services, a World Trade Organization treaty from which the United States recently withdrew.

By "unfairly enforcing or threatening criminal prosecutions and forfeitures against foreign online gambling operators," the association said in a prepared statement earlier this year, the United States Department of Justice allowed domestic gambling operators -- namely horse-race wagering operators -- to operate with impunity.

"It is one thing to change the rules going forward, but you can't change them for the past or the whole system collapse," Lode Van Den Hende, a Brussels trade lawyer and member of the delegation, said in a prepared statement today.

"The E.U. is currently considering all options available to it for use if needed, including implementing blocking-legislation which would prevent any E.U. entity cooperating with U.S. authorities in seeking enforcement in Europe whether it would be extradition, asset-seizure or otherwise," he added.

The delegation will also meet with the Justice Department and members of Congress. Coincidentally, the delegation's arrival comes just one day before a House Financial Services Committee markup on Barney Frank's Payment Systems Protection Act.

Look for more updates on this development this week.

Chris Krafcik is the editor of IGamingNews. He lives in St. Louis, Mo.