The European Union launched an investigation today into U.S. laws on Internet gambling, after European betting companies complained that Washington's actions against them were infringing world trade rules. Online gambling is a growing business, worth potentially $15.5 billion this year alone, and although the US has banned the practice, many European sites want a piece of the American market. The sites claim that the ban, which stops American banks and credit card companies from processing payments to online gambling companies outside the country, discriminates against them while allowing domestic gambling companies, especially those on horse races, to flourish.
"The U.S. has the right to address legitimate public policy concerns relating to Internet gambling, but discrimination against EU companies cannot be part of the policy mix," said EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson, who stated he hoped the issue could be resolved amicably. Officials at the U.S. mission to the EU declined to comment, directing inquiries to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative in Washington.