Sunday, March 11, 2007

EU Case Draws Line in the Sand Against Member Nations' Gambling Monopolies

Not receiving as much coverage as it deserved this week was a ruling issued by the European Court in a case involving Italy. For the U.S. poker player in the short term, it has little immediate importance; for the U.S. player in a timeframe covering years, it was a big deal.

Italy came out the loser in this one, in a case where they attempted to criminally prosecute agents of UK betting firm Stanley Leisure Plc, who were accepting bets on Italian soil. Italian officials said that they only they could issue the gambling license, and the three defendants argued back that their UK-issued license was quite valid under the terms of the EU trade agreements governing member nations.

The defendants won. It's a huge decision in favor of online gambling being treated as legitimate trade spanning international boundaries, and is likely to be a leading indicator of the EU's stance concerning similar practices by the United States in the almost-certain event that related disputes continue to evolve and work their way through the World Trade Organization.

Countries like France are probably a bit peeved right now. Member nations with big national lotteries they wanted to protect tried to minimize the impact of the decision, as one might expect, but it was a rare instance of justice actually winning out. Here is a French translation of our PokerStars download guide called "Telechargement PokerStars" and why in the world does Italy, of all places, have a stick up their arses about online poker? It's so bad that Stars has to utilize Poker Check so italians can download the software (scarica poker stars gratuitamente)" :-)

It means nothing for U.S. poker players today, tomorrow, or next week, but we should all be happy about this one, nonetheless.

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