WTO hits US on Internet betting ban

The US has failed to change its ban on Internet betting to comply with a World Trade Organization ruling that said the legislation unfairly targets offshore casinos, the global trade body, quoted by an Associated Press report said.

The Associated Press report said the ruling opens the door to possible commercial sanctions against the US.

In a 215-page decision, a three-member WTO compliance panel sided with the twin Caribbean island nation of Antigua and Barbuda, which has argued that Internet gambling is a lucrative source of revenue and provides an income for hundreds of islanders, the report said.

The Associated Press report said the Geneva-based trade referee has said Washington can maintain restrictions on online gambling, as long as its laws are equally applied to American operators offering remote betting on horse racing.

Shares in London-listed gaming stocks rose after the announcement. Leisure & Gaming gained 10%, while PartyGaming rose 4.5 % after initially surging by 16%. 888 Holdings increased 2%, the report said.

Washington claimed victory in the WTO's initial ruling two years ago because the body recognized its right to prevent offshore betting as a means of protecting public order and public morals. But the US acknowledged that the latest decision was a setback.