Tidbits

The Bank of Sweden Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel will be announced Monday at the earliest.

allofmp3.com is becoming a major issue in the Russian WTO accession talks.

Sir Ronald Sanders argues that US legislation prohibiting international gambling is protectionist:

Further, the Bill, passed by Congress in September, expressly makes legal bets through the Internet on US horse racing, US Internet lotteries, US fantasy sports and, more critically, allows states and Native American tribes to authorise Internet-gaming of almost any kind that occurs wholly within the borders of the state in which they are located.

So, even though the moral argument is being touted, and the religious right in the US has welcomed the Bill, it has little to do with morals and more to do with stopping Internet gaming companies from outside the US providing services to US customers.

Bob Goodlatte, the Congressman from Virginia, summed up this protectionist position when he declared that the Bill would stop “US $6 billion from being sucked out of the economy” annually.

It is this very protectionist position that caused successive governments of the small Caribbean Island, Antigua and Barbuda, to bring a case against the US to the World Trade Organization (WTO)…

A WTO Panel has already ruled that the US has to bring its laws into conformity with its international obligations. This new Bill, which specifically permits a whole host of domestic Internet betting opportunities, is even more blatantly discriminatory against the supply of gaming services to the US from other countries than US law was before Antigua and Barbuda won its ruling from the WTO.

Therefore, the WTO should take a very dim view of this very protectionist development once Antigua and Barbuda draws it to their attention…

The context of the Bill’s passage also raises serious questions of just how much study Senators gave to it, and the extent to which they really understood that it was also a trade issue with implications for the US in the WTO.

The Senate adopted the Bill in a late night pre-recess session of Congress. It was tagged on at the last minute to the Safe Port Act that was designed to stop companies from other countries (such as almost happened with a Dubai company earlier this year) having security rights at a US port. Many of those who voted for the Bill to cramp Internet gambling were really concerned about the security of US ports.