Many people seemed to enjoy the U.S. - Gambling WTO dispute back in its heyday. Is it possible a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling could revive it? This is from Law360:
The U.S. Supreme Court's landmark decision giving states a green light to legalize sports gambling raises a slew of implications for foreign companies looking to get a piece of the action and casts new light on a 15-year-old trade case that saw a tiny island nation clash with the mighty U.S. over its gambling restrictions.
The 7-2 ruling struck down a federal law that kept states from moving ahead with their own gambling laws and essentially blew the door open for the mostly shadowy sports betting industry to step into the limelight.
As with any industry poised for a likely explosion, questions of international competition loom large. The U.S. appetite for sports gambling — industry analysts project about $150 billion is already being wagered yearly, much of it through currently illegal channels — makes it a likely market for companies in places like the United Kingdom that have allowed their gambling sectors to flourish.
"In theory, [foreign gambling companies] love this, they say, 'Now here is an opportunity for some more business,'" Cato Institute trade policy analyst Simon Lester told Law360. "But if they don't get access to it, they will look for ways to file complaints about it."
In some respects, offshore sports books and websites have had a leg up for years, as they've already made modest inroads into the U.S. market, evading law enforcement, while U.S. providers have remained mostly nonexistent outside the state of Nevada.
But foreign providers' modest gains into a mostly black market will be a pittance compared with the revenue those companies can expect when U.S. sports betting gets up and running, and it is not yet clear exactly how welcoming the U.S. will be to foreign competition.
The high court's ruling only allows states to decide their own fate on sports gambling rather than legalizing it writ large, so it is difficult to sketch the contours of a possible trade case against betting rules that are not yet in place.
But states that already have passed sports betting laws, such as New Jersey, which litigated the case up to the Supreme Court, are likely to move quickly to open up their gambling sectors, with others not far behind. In the coming weeks and months, attorneys and trade policy experts will be keeping a close eye on exactly how those states prop up their gambling regimes and bring providers into their markets.
"It remains to be seen whether these states will give an opportunity to foreign-based betting operations and gambling operations to provide services in the state," Cassidy Levy Kent LLP partner Yohai Baisburd told Law360. "That goes for brick-and-mortar, like at casinos and racetracks ... or for web-based betting. How will that play out, it's going to be interesting."
I have no idea what Antigua is thinking about any of this right now, and it's hard to say what the chances are of them taking this ruling into account and pushing forward with their WTO efforts. But I can imagine how they could point out the increased size of the market they are being shut out of, and arguing that the level of nullification or impairment will soon increase.
Putting aside the WTO law issues, I'm curious to see how the states that legalize sports gambling deal with the issue of licensing providers of these services, in particular how they handle applications from foreign companies. How many foreign companies will apply for these licenses? Will foreign companies be allowed to operate in this sector at all? Will they be required to work with a local partner?