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Is Europe planning an Antigua-style trade complaint?

 
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 22, 2006 12:39 pm    Post subject: Is Europe planning an Antigua-style trade complaint? Reply with quote

Are European Communities (EC) planning an Antigua-style gambling complaint against the U.S.?

Quote:
Update: America's OUCH! case: UK gambling firms prod EU to up the GATS-slash compensation to $100 billion and the trade reps are listening!

View the PokerPulse graph charting the cost TO THE U.S. of its remote gambling ban in real U.S. dollars worldwide.



Quote:
Maybe. See the excellent slide presentation of Jan. 21/05, The WTO's Internet Gambling Decision, Potential State Responses, by Robert Stumberg and Sean Hewens of the Georgetown University Law Center and Peter Riggs of the Forum on Democracy and Trade.

Slide 19 of 25 states that if the U.S. chooses to do nothing in response to panel recommendations in Antigua's Cross-Border Betting Dispute, Doing nothing could simply lead to the next claim by other nations (see slide 21).

Slide 21 then lists WTO members with a stake in Internet gambling:

Quote:
Antigua 428 sites 27% (approximate)
Costa Rica 366 sites 23%
Canada 321 sites 21%
The Netherlands
Antilles 278 sites 17%
UK 79 sites 5%
Belize 45 sites 3%
Dominican Rep. 25 sites 1.6%
Other (not all WTO) 50 sites 3.5%



See also testimony by Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch division, before the House Ways and Means Committe May 17/05:

Quote:
U.S. domestic policies from gambling regulations to tax policies have been repeatedly ruled against by run-away WTO panels. The recent WTO gambling case is the most recent demonstration that when expansive ‘trade’ rules come up against public interest laws before WTO tribunals, nondiscriminatory, democratically-created domestic policies can be undercut. Among the WTO panel’s outlandish decisions in that case, where the Caribbean nation of Antigua challenged various U.S. state and federal anti-gambling laws, were the following: The entire U.S. gambling sector is covered by provisions within the WTO’s General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) irrespective of the intention of U.S. trade negotiators. As such, the ability of the U.S. government to regulate not only Internet but ALL forms of gambling at the federal, state and local level is limited by the rules of GATS. (emphasis added) The panel also announced that GATS rules forbidding numerical restrictions on covered services means that a ban on an activity in a GATS-covered sector, even if applied to domestic and foreign service providers alike, is a “zero quota” and thus a violation of GATS rules – with broad implications for bans on an expansive range of pernicious activity. These two elements of the ruling mean that the U.S. is exposed to future WTO challenges in light of limits on gambling common in many states, as well as assorted exclusive supplier arrangements, such as with Indian tribes, and state monopoly gaming, such as the 43 U.S. states and territories which use lotteries to raise revenues. (emphasis added) Thus, the WTO panel, in this case, interpreted that a GATS exception for “laws necessary to protect public morals,” could be applied if the U.S. eliminates discrepancies between the way in which it regulates domestic and foreign providers, including through the U.S. Interstate Horseracing Act, which waives the three laws challenged by Antigua for certain domestic firms. A week later, a WTO tribunal issued a ruling on the same necessity text within the GATS exceptions clause in a case having to do with the Dominican Republic’s alcohol distribution system which explicitly contradicted the inclusive reading in the gambling case. At a minimum this conflict in rulings shows that the lenient decision in the gambling case with regards to the necessity test is not a settled WTO standard. (emphasis added) Some WTO observers wonder if the sudden switch back to the past, narrow ruling on the necessary test points to the political nature of the WTO dispute process and an attempt to avoid an explosive WTO ruling just before the U.S. Congress takes up the WTO 10-year review.


CAFTA, too, provides for anti-gambling trade challenges, and these, unlike complaints at the WTO, could result in actual money damages.

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 02, 2007 1:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Heads up, America:
Is the EC preparing an Internet gambling challenge similar to Antigua's?

The Independent
Daily Trombone
EU mulls legal challenge to US Internet gaming clampdown
By Stephen Castle in Brussels
Jan. 31/07


Quote:
How to PETITION the EU to support online gambling.



Quote:
Laws that prevent Americans gambling online on European-run websites may be challenged, the EU said yesterday, raising the prospect of a fresh trans-atlantic trade rift.

Charlie McCreevy, the European Internal Market Commissioner, issued the threat against the background of rising US pressure on the gambling industry...Critics accuse the U.S. government of seeking to enforce their own laws on businesses based outside the country. Mr McCreevy told the European Parliament:

"In my view it is probably a restrictive practice and we might take it up in another fora." He argued that the U.S. is protecting its own gambling industry by stopping foreign companies from building up an online betting sector. Mr McCreevy said: "It's not my intention to bring forward a harmonised piece of legislation on gambling in the European Union." (emphasis added)

...Mr McCreevy, who takes a well-known interest in horseracing, said that the U.S. online gambling rules were a prima facie case of protectionism and that the World Trade Organisation was a possible venue for tackling them. Officials said that he was in consultation with the EU Trade Commissioner, Peter Mandelson, who has responsibility for pursuing such disputes. European officials are watching two cases already before the WTO in which Antigua and Barbuda challenged American gaming rules. An adjudication on the implementation of an earlier ruling against the US is expected in the coming months and, if it goes against the US, online gambling firms in the UK are likely to put pressure on the EU to press their case against the U.S.

A spokesman for Mr Mandelson said: "We recognise the right of a country to regulate gambling and we are following the Antigua case closely because if there is discrimination that would clearly affect Europe."
. (emphasis added)


Quote:
Sure looks that way!
View our 39 gambling hits at the EU Parliament recorded Feb. 2/07.



Here's the first:

Quote:
MEPs plan to question Commission on the future of gambling in Europe

Free movement of services - 10-10-2006 - 20:15

MEPs in the Internal Market committee plan to take a fresh look at the gambling sector, via an oral question to the Commission, which was adopted on Tuesday. This follows Parliament's vote earlier this year to exclude gambling from the scope of the Services Directive. (emphasis added) Welcoming the Commission’s April 2006 decision to launch infringement procedures against seven Member States (Denmark, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands and Sweden) concerning their restrictions on national sports betting markets - as these are regarded as incompatible with article 49 of the EC Treaty on the freedom to provide services - committee members ask the Commission to inform Parliament of the current state of the proceedings. They recall a recent Court of Justice ruling (Gambelli, C-243/01), which states that national laws restricting the activities of betting companies constitute "a restriction on the freedom of establishment and the freedom to provide services", and ask whether further action is planned in other gambling-related sectors "where discriminatory practices are identified". The committee also asks the Commission to report on any and all initiatives it may be preparing "to develop a legal framework for on-line gambling" - initiatives which, MEPs hope, "will allow Member States to safeguard consumers and protect minors while allowing legitimate operations by reputable firms". It is now for the leaders of Parliament's political groups to decide when to put the question on the plenary agenda for an answer from the Commission and a debate.


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 25, 2007 3:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Forbes.com
EU Pushes For Competition In Gambling

By Parmy Olson
March 22/07




Quote:
...On Wednesday the European Commission, the executive body of the EU, called on the governments of Denmark, Finland and Hungary to change laws that barred foreign gambling firms from doing business in their countries. It came after a number of gambling companies, including Britain's Ladbrokes filed complaints with the commission. The panel said the three countries could not claim to be protecting consumers from gambling if they also encouraged them to play state lotteries that paid proceeds to their governments. The trio of nations had effectively been restricting foreign gambling companies by imposing requirements for state concession and making it difficult to obtain licenses. (emphasis added)

...But according to the commission, the rules set by Denmark, Finland and Hungary in particular "have not been shown to be necessary, proportionate and nondiscriminatory." Those countries now have two months to respond to the charges or they will be taken to court. The European Commission had put Italy, Germany, Hungary, the Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark and Finland on notice in April 2006 for allowing state lotteries to offer online sports betting, while barring rivals from the business.


For more on the future of European gambling, view the EC report, Chapter 7 (114 pgs.), The Impacts of Internet Gambling and Other Forms of Remote Gambling on the EU Gambling Market.

Quote:
1. Court decisions, legislation, or technological developments would create a highly competitive environment in the Member States by opening gambling services markets to a large number of potential service providers, and substantially expanding the choices of services available to consumers throughout the EU.

2. Member States could still retain the licensing of gambling services providers and set appropriate tax rates and other conditions of doing business. Under this Scenario, however, the primary philosophic underpinning of the rules governing the gambling services sectors would be orientated toward the well being of consumers and the market principles of competition.

3. National lotteries under this scenario would engage in competition with other EU lotteries in the sale of traditional lottery products across borders. They would also continue to enter into strategic alliances to develop products with other Member States such as EuroMillions, that would take advantage of the peculiar scale economies of lotteries. Private sector firms, such as remote gambling service providers, could also offer lottery-style products.

4. The casino sector would evolve in at least some Member States in a manner similar to casino industry developments in other countries such as the United States, South Africa, Australia or New Zealand. This could be driven by a willingness on the part of at least some Member States to pass enabling legislation, lower tax rates, and relax constraints in a manner consistent with large resort casino development; a desire to use large casino projects as a tool for economic or tourism development within specific Member States; and subsequent cross-border competition within the EU.

5. Member States could still prohibit all machine gaming outside of casinos if they so choose (i.e. France, Austria), or establish terms and conditions under which enterprises can operate or place gaming machines. Alternatively, they could permit them under relatively unrestricted conditions. We will assume that, on balance, Member States will permit an expansion of gaming machines, and remove or significantly reduce restrictions on wager size, jackpot size, and other product attributes.

6. Bingo services would remain relatively unchanged, but operators would bring in technological enhancements and offer better prizes (i.e. lower prices) to make their offerings more attractive. Furthermore, present restrictions on Bingo operations would be relaxed. (Excerpt from pg. 104)


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 05, 2007 11:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

'Want fries with that? May we SUPER-SIZE your order?'
U.S. Treasury an open trove to 150 WTO Members if U.S. breaks GATS:

Super Size Me
DVD




Quote:
Antigua Sun
Quality Daily
Antigua ups the heat on US in gambling dispute
By Patricia Campbell
May 23/07


Quote:
Antigua & Barbuda has called on the 150 members of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to file claims for compensation against the United States – the latest move in its trade dispute with the US over Internet gambling.

Yesterday in Geneva, the WTO Dispute Settlement Body’s ruling on the matter was formally adopted by the WTO. That ruling declared the US in continued violation of its commitments under the WTO General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) in relation to the restrictions placed on remote gambling.

Since the ruling was issued in March, however, the US has declared its intention to change its GATS commitments so that it is no longer pledged to allow access to Internet gambling companies, a move that it says will effectively put an end to the dispute with Antigua & Barbuda.

In response to this, Antigua & Barbuda’s attorney at the WTO Mark Mendel said that Antigua & Barbuda is actively encouraging WTO members to claim compensation from the US if it attempts to break the treaty. Mendel explained that this option is open to members of the organisation, who can file a claim for “future damages” based on the failure of the US to honour its GATS commitment, even if they have no current stake in the Internet gambling industry.

“We have our decision. We have the WTO ruling in our favour and they can’t unilaterally change that,” he said, explaining Antigua & Barbuda’s position on the US tactic. To attempt to do so, he added, could be extremely expensive for the US government.

“Any WTO member can file a claim for compensation against them and although we are very small and we as a country may not have that much of an impact on the American economy, if as many countries as we think might file claims do, then that can have an extraordinary impact,” he said
. ...

We met with the Chinese delegation and they have a very considerable interest in the use of this tactic and whether the US is going to comply with their obligations to China under the same scenario. If you can just unilaterally withdraw your commitments, then it changes the whole landscape and it’s something that I don’t think anybody really expected or anticipated,” Mendel said.


Quote:
Did you lose money or access to services over U.S. protectionism in the gambling sector? If so, TELL YOU LOCAL TRADE OFFICIALS IT'S PAYDAY!

Even if you didn't lose money or access to services but you believe even tiny countries like Antigua are entitled to profit from providing clean, GREEN, sustainable, regulated services to the American gambling market, TELL YOUR LOCAL TRADE OFFICIALS to STAKE A CLAIM AGAINST A U.S. GATS BREACH.


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 26, 2007 11:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Was this anyone's definition of negotiating in good faith?
Letter of March, 2005 indicates U.S. plan all along to change agmt
:

Int'l trade called a 'palpable threat to state authority and sovereignty':

We've asked NCSL if material from April's international trade seminar will be published and available for sale at its excellent Bookstore link. We'll post any replies we receive here. In the meantime, we note the Mar. 30/05 letter to ambassador Peter Allgeier, acting U.S. Trade Representative, from Sheryl Allen (R-Utah), chair of NCSL's Standing Committee on Economic Development, Trade & Cultural Affairs, regarding the WTO gambling decision. Here are a few key paragraphs:

Quote:
Despite USTR's efforts, this case highlights the continuing problem of inadequate consultation with state governments during the trade negotiation process. The legislative and regulatory authority over gambling varies extensively at the sub-federal level but is solidly rooted in the constitutional jurisdiction of state governments. Accordingly, to comply with the WTO panel decision, if the anticipated appellate decision does not favor the United States, the U.S. federal government would not only have to change its own laws but would have to override state authority to regulate gambling. The threat of preemption is very real in this case and state governments should have been consulted before specific commitments to “gambling and betting services” were originally made.

State legislatures have grappled with the challenges of balancing the economic development, tourism, and tax revenue prospects of gambling industries against community welfare and public morals concerns for years. This is an ongoing debate and states have chosen different solutions, the sheer variety of which is the very basis for the Antigua complaint. NCSL and the Economic Development, Trade & Cultural Affairs Committee regularly publish articles and issue briefs on the gaming issue and hold hearings to examine the latest approaches in the states. USTR would do well to ensure that this expertise and these varied authoritative perspectives are considered as gaming and gambling issues are negotiated in Geneva.

USTR has indicated that if the United States loses the gambling case on appeal, we are unlikely to comply with the decision, choosing instead to alter our GATS schedule so as to deny countries like Antigua the ability to provide Internet gambling services to U.S. consumers. Such a negotiation process under the Article XXI authority of GATS will not be easy, however, as the value of the Internet gambling industry (estimated at $7.5 billion in 2004) might well require sizable trade concessions in other service areas. It is also worth noting that USTR’s proposed solution of eliminating U.S. commitments to Internet gambling does not address the potential for similar WTO challenges to the bricks-and-mortar casino industry within the United States. Additionally, the threat would remain that individual gambling companies located in foreign jurisdictions could challenge U.S. restrictions via the investor-state provisions contained in NAFTA, CAFTA and other trade agreements.

The WTO Appellate Body is expected to reach a decision in the gambling case no later than April 7, 2005. Although the Appellate Body technically has the power to completely reverse the lower panel’s holding, such an occurrence has come about in less than five percent of all WTO appeals. More likely than not, the threat of international challenges to U.S. gambling restrictions will remain following the release of the Appellate Body’s decision. NCSL seeks a commitment from USTR for meaningful consultation with state legislatures both in the resolution of the gambling dispute and in future negotiations pertaining to international trade agreements. Such a written commitment would go a long way to assuaging the growing concern among state legislators that trade agreements do indeed pose a viable and palpable threat to state authority and sovereignty as is so vividly evidenced in this Antigua gambling case[
. (emphasis added)


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 11, 2007 11:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

globeandmail.com
Pedestrian Toronto Daily
EU presses U.S. to change e-gambling laws
Attributed to Reuters
Nov. 9/07


Quote:
WASHINGTON — The United States must change an Internet gambling law that discriminates against European companies by preventing them from offering services in the U.S. market, the European Union's top trade official said on Thursday. "What we need to see is a change in U.S. legislation that removes that discrimination against EU operators," EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson told reporters before heading to Capitol Hill to discuss the issue with U.S. lawmakers. "It's not in the interest of American consumers to have good responsible competitors in this market excluded by regulatory mechanisms."

The European Union and other trading partners have been in compensation talks with the United States over Washington's decision to retroactively remove gambling services from the market-opening commitments it made as part of the 1994 Uruguay Round world trade agreement. The United States took that step after the World Trade Organization ruled in a case brought by the tiny Caribbean nation Antigua and Barbuda. Congress has since passed a broader online gambling ban.

EU-based gambling firms have urged the bloc to seek as much as $100-billion in compensation for being shut out of the U.S. market. "When a member of the WTO defaults on its commitments, compensation is due. That's the case of online gambling," Mandelson said. "We're in talks about the magnitude of that compensation. I think what we're asking for is reasonable and realistic. The numbers aren't quite as large as has been advertised, but they need to be substantial." Mandelson said he would talk on Thursday with Rep. Barney Frank, chairman of the House of Representatives Financial Services Committee, about his bill to roll back the online gambling ban. "I think he takes a fair-minded, a common sense, approach to this and we look forward to that being effective legislation," Mandelson said.

"We're not telling the United States how to regulate this industry. That's not for us to do. All we're saying is, however you choose to regulate, don't discriminate against non-American operators." (emphasis added)


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 26, 2008 2:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

BBC News
EU in US online gaming enquiry
March 10/08


Quote:
The EU has started an enquiry to examine if US policies affecting foreign online gambling firms breach trade rules.

The European Commission is to assess European firms' complaints that they have been discriminated against. A 2006 U.S. law effectively banned foreign Internet firms from operating in the US. European firms have complained that the US has targeted foreign gambling firms while allowing US rivals to operate. Industry association the Remote Gambling Association (RGA) lodged a complaint on the topic in December with the European Commission. It claimed the Department of Justice (DoJ) was trying to prosecute foreign gambling operators while allowing US firms to operate, especially those involved in horse betting.

"As the industry trade association, we cannot simply sit on the sidelines and watch while our members... suffer the double whammy of being prosecuted for activities whilst US industry is not," RGA head Clive Hawkswood said. The EU said: "Despite statements by the DoJ that internet gambling was not allowed, many local companies were actively supplying this type of service".

"The US has the right to address legitimate public policy concerns relating to internet gambling, but discrimination against EU firms cannot be part of the policy mix," said EU trade commissioner Peter Mandelson.

... The EU, which is set to examine the complaints over the next five to eight months, says it is looking forward to debating the issue with the US authorities and reaching a "mutually acceptable solution". It could trigger the EU to lodge a complaint against the US with the WTO.


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 17, 2008 3:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

TimesOnline
Fleet Street's Finest
Call that a special relationship? They wouldn't bet on it
America's pursuit of British businessmen who have broken no law is absurd
By Mishcon de Reya lawyer, Anthony Julius
June 17/08


Quote:
EU operators pay TWICE!
More on the 'perks' of that not-so-special relationship
.

More on U.S. extraterritoriality and its victims from other western common law-based democracies.

STILL MORE criticism worldwide of U.S. unilateralism in trade and foreign policy generally.



Quote:
With George W. Bush in London, it is a good time to reflect on the “special relationship”. According to received opinion, this consists of no more than Britain's special culpability for colluding in American crimes. This is mistaken and derives from a European anti-Americanism at least as old as the American Republic itself.

But does this mean that there is no cause at all for concern about the special relationship? Barack Obama has conceded that the relationship must be somewhat “recalibrated”. An Obama adviser added: “Full partners not only listen to each other, they also occasionally follow each other.” He was right to identify an inequality that urgently needs remedying.

The “special relationship”, a phrase coined by Winston Churchill after the Second World War, is predicated on shared language and history, and a commitment to representative democracy and the political freedoms that sustain it. It has the character of a family relationship in two critical respects. It is permanent and open to particular abuse. Although the abuse has been sharpest in recent years, it derives from a longer-term problem - best identified as a peculiarly American extraterritorialism.

“Extraterritorialism” is either when a state gives up some sovereignty to another body, or when it asserts authority over a foreign nation. It can cut both ways. According to the liberal version, individual states should subordinate their sovereign desires to common interests, submitting to authorities such as the UN. According to the imperial version, one state has the right to assert its sovereignty over others, requiring them to submit to its interests.

Liberal extraterritorialism is now identified with Europe; imperial extraterritorialism is taken to be the US default position in both trade and warfare. America is, as the historian Niall Ferguson has approvingly pointed out, an empire. It should therefore surprise no one that it behaves like one.

But the distinction between liberal and imperial does not quite capture the paradox of America's stance. It has been liberal at times and imperial at other times. But it has also been a third, uniquely American thing. This amounts to an interventionism that is genuinely self-sacrificing - acting not merely in its own selfish interests, while also acting without the consent of bodies, such as the UN. It is not submitting to American self-delusion to acknowledge this.

Such an acknowledgement is needed to put into perspective criticisms of US imperial extraterritorialism (to declare an interest, I write as a member of a law firm representing victims of one especially egregious US assertion of extraterritorial authority).

Among deplorable instances of this invasiveness are the Helms-Burton Act 1996, which extends the US embargo against Cuban goods to foreign companies trading with Cuba and provisions of the Patriot Act 2001 that treat foreign bank deposits as if held in the foreign bank's US Interbank account.

And there is the Extradition Act 2003, which reflected an inequality between Britain and the US, making it easier for US prosecuting authorities to extradite from Britain than for British prosecuting authorities to extradite from the US.

The tendency to ignore international obligations and substitute aggressive unilateral, protectionist policies is hardly a vice limited to the US. But the extent of US power and influence means that when the US misbehaves that misbehaviour has the greatest impact. In March 2003, Antigua and Barbuda complained to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) about US laws that prohibited foreign access to the highly lucrative US internet gambling market. The WTO ruled that these US laws violated America's international obligations. The US should have legislated to comply with its international commitments, helping to safeguard the WTO's integrity. Instead, it announced that it would withdraw from its treaty commitments.

Meanwhile, in October 2006, Congress passed the Unlawful Internet Gambling Act (UIGEA). The publicly listed and most responsible (mainly UK-listed) operators leading the industry immediately stopped taking US customers, at the cost of billions of dollars. These losses were not just to the few individuals most rewarded by the industry's success, but to all the institutional and individual investors in the companies and the other industries benefiting from WTO-sanctioned business in a multi-billion dollar industry.

The US nevertheless continues to act against those who withdrew from the market in 2006, while US businesses still operate in America free of interference or the risk of prosecution. The US seems untroubled by WTO findings. Nor is it deterred by an EU investigation into its discriminatory legislation and its violation of international trade principles. Remarkably, US companies are developing equivalent businesses in the UK and elsewhere in Europe on equal terms with UK and European businesses
. (emphasis added)

Many believe that American prosecutors will not rest until those associated with British online gaming are in jail or parties to multimillion-pound “settlements”. Among the UK companies, banks and businessmen threatened with prosecution for activities that were lawful when undertaken, David Carruthers, the Scottish former chief executive of BetOnSports, is under house arrest in St Louis on racketeering and conspiracy charges. And six weeks after that arrest, Peter Dicks, the chief executive of Sportingbet, was detained on entering the US. These British businessmen, who were acting completely lawfully, are being persecuted by retrospective American law.

There is a tendency among commentators to ignore international trade and business relations in favour of broader political and geopolitical concerns. But we should not need Adam Smith to remind us that it is in the fairness of everyday commercial dealings between nations that peace and harmony lie. America is in danger of overlooking this truth, when it acts unjustly and overlooks the interests of its allies and friends.


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PostPosted: Sat Aug 09, 2008 4:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

New deadline Oct. 1/08 set in the online gaming dispute:

The Antigua Sun
New deadline again in gaming dispute
By Aarati Jagdeo
Aug. 7/08


Quote:
A new deadline has been put in effect for Antigua and the U.S. to reach an agreement concerning the ongoing online gaming dispute. The date of 1 Oct., has been set as the time the two countries will have yet another opportunity to reach a resolution to the issue, which has gone on for years.

... Mark Mendel, Antigua’s attorney at the World Trade Organisation (WTO), stated he hoped that a resolution would be achieved, but he refrained from offering any prediction as to the possible results. ... He maintained in his opinion that both parties are trying to work things out.

When asked if there were any meetings scheduled between now and 1 Oct., Mendel said he was not sure but noted this is a time when “traditionally, the WTO people take their holiday… so I wouldn’t expect a whole lot to happen in the immediate future.” Mendel said as far as he is concerned Antigua is “still holding all the cards” but is prepared for anything.


Meanwhile, Europe awaits the GO on its own Antigua-style challenge:

Quote:
View the Remote Gaming Association (RGA) two page press release Aug. 8/08.

Quote:
The RGA, representing "the world's largest licensed, and stock market-listed remote gambling companies," declares support for the U.S. UIGEA Clarification Act (HR 6663), sponsored by Representative Pete Sessions (R-Tex). The "fundamental purpose is to clarify that online gambling operators who did not offer sports betting and who withdrew completely from the United States market upon passage of UIGEA should no longer be threatened with federal prosecution in the United States.

Since March 2008, the EU has been formally investigating the US prosecution of EU online gambling operators that voluntarily withdrew from the US market, at huge cost, following the passage of UIGEA. Exacerbating this injustice and trade violation by the US is the fact that US companies active today continue to operate with impunity. The EU investigation is based on the Trade Barriers Regulation and a complaint lodged with the EU by the RGA in December 2007 on the grounds that US prosecutorial policy in relation to EU licensed online gaming operations is both discriminatory and an ongoing breach of the US GATS commitments with respect to gambling services. These are the same commitments that the WTO has already ruled the US to have violated. The EU Commission is expected to conclude its TBR investigation and reach a decision before the end of this year. The decision will determine whether the case will be sent to the WTO for determination, followed by sanctions awarded against the US if the EU wins. However, if HR 6663 becomes law it will go a very long way to meeting the concerns of the RGA and the EU." ... (From the RGA press release Aug. 8/08)


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 26, 2009 11:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

European remote gambling operators pay for U.S. GATS-breach - TWICE!

MajorWager.com
Earnest Gambling Info Site
An Interview with Antigua Lawyer Mark Mendel
By Hartley Henderson
Jan. 24/08


Quote:
What do you make of the USTR refusing to provide any information on agreements signed, citing national security? Can you fathom any reason there can be a security concern if they reveal what exact concessions were given to the EU, Japan and Canada?

I am told that the Bush Administration pretty routinely refused to disclose all kinds of information on that basis, and perhaps there is nothing here more than the common, arrogant practices of that regime. However, I personally believe that the United States made various concessions to those trading partners that have little or nothing to do with the WTO or trade law that went far from the scope of the proposed United States "concessions" in order to be able to get a smooth withdrawal of the gambling concession. Quite likely, the government doesn't want those ostensibly unrelated concessions to become public knowledge.

What do you make of Peter Mandelson and the RGA constantly complaining to the WTO that the United States is discriminating against the EU? It seems they are changing their minds about allowing the U.S. to withdraw its commitments. What is your feeling?

Peter Mandelson is no longer at the EC, and I am not sure whether his successor has picked up the ball on this, but I have not heard anything, anyway. I have never understood the EC claim that was being pushed by the RGA. If the EC had a complaint, then it should not have agreed to allow withdrawal of the commitment. Once the commitment goes, all WTO claims with respect to the withdrawn commitment go (other than ours, of course, as it was filed and finally adjudicated prior to any withdrawal) and the WTO has no remedy for past acts. I have asked EC people on a number of occasions to explain to me what the point of this "investigation" is, given that they have no remedy and have yet to get an answer that makes any sense. (emphasis added)


Gee, thanks for your support - NOT!

Maybe cuz U.S. still seeks private 'settlements' in addition to GATS-slash concessions:

Quote:
View the Remote Gaming Association (RGA) two page press release Aug. 8/08.

Quote:
The RGA, representing "the world's largest licensed, and stock market-listed remote gambling companies," declares support for the U.S. UIGEA Clarification Act (HR 6663), sponsored by Representative Pete Sessions (R-Tex). The "fundamental purpose is to clarify that online gambling operators who did not offer sports betting and who withdrew completely from the United States market upon passage of UIGEA should no longer be threatened with federal prosecution in the United States.

Since March 2008, the EU has been formally investigating the US prosecution of EU online gambling operators that voluntarily withdrew from the US market, at huge cost, following the passage of UIGEA. Exacerbating this injustice and trade violation by the US is the fact that US companies active today continue to operate with impunity. The EU investigation is based on the Trade Barriers Regulation and a complaint lodged with the EU by the RGA in December 2007 on the grounds that US prosecutorial policy in relation to EU licensed online gaming operations is both discriminatory and an ongoing breach of the US GATS commitments with respect to gambling services. These are the same commitments that the WTO has already ruled the US to have violated. The EU Commission is expected to conclude its TBR investigation and reach a decision before the end of this year. The decision will determine whether the case will be sent to the WTO for determination, followed by sanctions awarded against the US if the EU wins. However, if HR 6663 becomes law it will go a very long way to meeting the concerns of the RGA and the EU." ... (From the RGA press release Aug. 8/08)


Quote:
See, for instance, PartyGaming 'discussions' with DoJ.

More about the investigation, including the views of an international trade attorney at Herbert Smith retained by RGA.



The so-called special relationship:

COUNTRY LIFE
Magazine Subscription
Interview, Robert Tuttle, ambassador
Protector of the special relationship
Dec. 3/08


Quote:
More on that not-so-special relationship.





Quote:
... This is Robert Tuttle's first diplomatic posting, taken up in 2005. He is, in fact, a car salesman.

His father, Holmes Tuttle, set up a car dealership in California in 1946. He sold a car to Ronald Reagan, and a friendship began between the pair. They campaigned together for the Republicans, and Holmes was one of those who urged Reagan to stand for governor of California.

When Reagan ran for President in 1980, Robert Tuttle co-chaired his campaign for California and then went to work for him at the White House, where he advised on presidential appointments. ...

How special is the special relationship? 'It's broad, wide and deep. You are our best friend and ally. (emphasis added) Every year, about 15,000 state, federal and local officials come to the UK to visit their British counterparts to learn, and to share information and ideas.' (-- p. 34)


Are trade reps not accountable to industry or the electorate?

The Post-American World
Hardcover
By Fareed Zakaria


Quote:
More of the book.





Quote:
We are now living through the third great power shift of the modern era. It could be called "the rise of the rest." Over the past few decades, countries all over the world have been experiencing rates of economic growth that were once unthinkable. While they have had booms and busts, the overall trend has been unambiguously upward. This growth has been most visible in Asia but is no longer confined to it. That is why to call this shift "the rise of Asia" does not describe it accurately. In 2006 and 2007, 124 countries grew at a rate of 4 percent or more. That includes more than 30 countries in Africa, two-thirds of the continent. Antoine van Agtmael, the fund manager who coined the term "emerging markets," has identified the 25 companies most likely to be the world's next great multinationals. His list includes four companies each from Briazil, Mexico, South Korea, and Taiwan; three from India; two from China; and one each from Argentina, Chile, Malaysia, and South Africa. ...

A related aspect of this new era is the diffusion of power from states to other actors. The "rest" that is rising includes many nonstate actors Groups and individuals have been empowered, and hierarchy, centralization, and control are being undermined. Functions that were once controlled by governments are now shared with international bodies like the World Trade Organization and the European Union. Non-governmental groups are mushrooming every day on every issue in every country. Corporations and capital are moving from place to place, finding the best location in which to do business, rewarding some governments while punishing others. Terrorists like Al Qaeda, drug cartels, insurgents, and militias of all kinds are finding space to operate within the nooks and crannies of the international system. Power is shifting away from nation-states, up, down, and sideways. In such an atmosphere, the traditional applications of national power, both economic and military, have become less effective. ((From the chapter entitled, The Rise of the Rest, pgs. 2-4)


What to do:

Quote:
Belly up to the baise:
Tell GObama's new Public Liaison Office to stop blocking commerce, especially in a global financial crisis!




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PostPosted: Tue Jan 27, 2009 1:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Online Casino Advisory
Earnest Gambling News Source
RGA CEO Answers Mendel US Online Gambling Assertions
Jan. 26/08


Quote:
See also, Are some Internet gambling sites somehow more illegal than others?



Quote:
... Mr. (RGA president Clive) Hawkswood explains that the settlement, terms of which have not been disclosed by the US, only solved the problem of withdrawing the commitment from the date of the settlement (December 2007) forward. The current complaint, a totally separate issue under the law, revolves around the US refusal to honor that commitment while it was in effect.

Mr. Hawkswood notes two distinct concerns with US actions. One is that the US broke the GATS accord "by pursuing enforcement action against EU individuals and businesses for conducting trade (i.e., online gambling) that should have been permissable under that agreement." That is, the Department of Justice continues to persecute and harass online casinos and their representatives for actions that were legitimate under GATS, as in the PartyGaming case.

The second violation by US policies concerns the singling out of foreign entities for prosecution. US law enforcement seeks to prosecute European online gambling operators, "but it has not taken similar action against US based companies and so it has acted in a discriminatory fashion."

Mr. Hawkswood notes that, while Mr. Mendel is correct in observing the settlement of ongoing Internet gambling issues between the US and the EU, the issue of prosecution for accepting trade from the US before the amendment of the GATS could properly be resolved with the dismissal of further attempts to retroactively enforce prosecutions against EU companies, accompanied by a second negotiated settlement. (emphasis added)


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 02, 2009 9:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

European Union Commission
European Commission concludes investigation on U.S. Internet gambling laws
No. 17/09
March 26/09


Quote:
View the two-page Fact Sheet on the investigation.


Quote:
The European Commission has finalized its draft report following an investigation into United States measures affecting foreign suppliers of Internet gambling services. The investigation has found that US laws on remote gambling and their enforcement against EU companies constitute an obstacle to trade that is inconsistent with WTO rules. Although the provisional conclusions of the report imply that WTO proceedings against US measures would be justified, the report also indicates that the issue should be taken up with the US Administration, with a view to finding a negotiated solution. The report, completed in the framework of the EU Trade Barriers Regulation (TBR), will now be sent to EU member states for comments on the findings, and will be made public once finalized.

EU Trade Commissioner Catherine Ashton said: "It is for the US to decide how best to regulate Internet gambling in its market, but this must be done in a way that fully respects WTO obligations. I am hopeful that we can find a swift, negotiated solution to this issue."

The report released today to EU Member States is the result of a formal examination procedure initiated on March 11, 2008, following a complaint lodged by the Remote Gambling Association (RGA). The report concludes that US laws deny access and discriminate against foreign suppliers of gambling and betting services inconsistently with US WTO obligations.

European companies are still now subject to legal proceedings by US authorities based on their past activities on the US online gambling and betting market. The proceedings are continuing despite the withdrawal of European companies from the US market in 2006 following changes in the US regulatory framework. The report comes to the conclusion that these proceedings are legally not justified and discriminatory.

This investigation takes account of the fact that the EU and the US agreed in December 2007 on a compensation package in exchange for the loss of trade opportunities as a result of the US intention to withdraw its WTO commitments on gambling and betting services. Once this withdrawal occurs, the US would no longer be obliged to guarantee future access to its gambling and betting market, but this does not mean that it could disregard its obligations with respect to past trade. (emphasis added)

More here.


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 24, 2009 10:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

From the PokerPulse Gambler's Guide to Safe Bets, post-Prohibition 2.0:

The Economist
Magazine Subscription
Stacking the deck
Online gambling in Europe

Prohibition of online gambling is driven by a desire to protect revenues not consumers
July 18/09




Quote:
WHO says Europe cannot produce internet giants? In one area of online commerce, at least, its companies dominate the world. Betfair, an online-betting exchange based in London, has been called the eBay of sports betting (see article), and the vast majority of the websites that allow people to play poker and other games of chance or skill for real money are based in Europe.

In part, this is because that is where the market is: Europeans place some 40% of all online wagers. A bigger reason, however, is America’s prohibition of online gambling. With its love of horse racing, sports and casinos, and its world-beating technology industry, America ought to be the natural home of this burgeoning field. But it has arrested industry entrepreneurs and ordered banks to halt payments to online-gambling firms. In June the European Commission grumbled that American restrictions on European online-gambling firms break World Trade Organisation rules.

Yet Europe itself is deeply divided when it comes to online gambling (see article). In theory there is a single market, but in practice only 13 of the European Union’s 27 member states approve of online gambling. Seven countries restrict it to gambling monopolies owned or licensed by the state, and another seven have followed the Americans and attempted to outlaw it. Dutch banks face prosecution if they transfer money to online-gambling firms abroad, and Germany, Italy and Spain are trying to get internet service-providers to block access to gambling websites. That the European Commission is defending European firms’ right to offer online gambling, even as some countries try to ban it, raises difficult questions about individual states’ ability to override the single market in sensitive areas. But despite much huffing and puffing, the commission seems reluctant to raise the legal stakes.

Don’t bet on prohibition

Politicians argue that prohibition is the best way to protect vulnerable consumers from a potentially addictive pastime. But kinks in the law expose their hypocrisy. In both America and Europe, local gambling monopolies are allowed to offer the same sorts of bets that are outlawed if placed with firms abroad. This suggests that the prohibitionist governments’ main aim is to protect the revenue that they earn from their state-approved gambling monopolies.

The belief that they can do so by bullying banks and internet companies into stopping people from placing bets abroad seems naive. Gamblers know that they can get better odds when placing bets in more open markets where the house’s take is usually 3-5% of the stake wagered. Traditional bookmakers or lotteries may keep as much as a quarter for themselves. Prohibition has not eliminated online gambling in America: a steady stream of prosecutions attests to its continuing popularity. It has, however, driven the reputable internet gambling firms to friendlier shores and has pushed those Americans most determined to bet—the very people who are the most vulnerable to gambling’s excesses—to place their wagers in the murkier bits of the internet
. (emphasis added)

Trying to stem this tide is pointless. Rather than criminalising gamblers for trying to get a better deal, governments would do far better to offer punters and online-gambling firms a safe, legal but regulated market—and gain some tax revenues to help plug their deficits at the same time.(-- pgs. 14-15)


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 24, 2009 11:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

United States Trade Representative (USTR)
U.S. and EU discuss ways forward on bilateral trade issues
Press Release
July 14/09


Quote:
View the European Commission's statement of July 13/09.


Quote:
United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk and European Union Trade Commissioner Catherine Ashton met today in Washington, D.C. to discuss bilateral trade relations. Building on the successful conclusion of an agreement on the long-standing beef hormone dispute on May 13, both sides agreed to intensify their bilateral engagement in order to find solutions that will bring meaningful economic benefits to workers, consumers, and businesses on both sides of the Atlantic. USTR Kirk and Commissioner Ashton issued the following statement:

At our first meeting in March, we pledged to redouble our efforts to resolve bilateral trade disagreements, some of which we have been discussing for many years. Through intensified bilateral engagement, we believe we can find solutions that bring meaningful economic benefits to stakeholders on both sides. We instructed our negotiators to identify and exploit new opportunities for market-opening and economic integration.

Two months ago we registered our first success under this effort to intensify bilateral engagement: the May U.S.-EU Memorandum of Understanding relating to the beef hormones dispute, which underscored that even disagreements that have persisted for many years can sometimes be set on a course towards resolution through pragmatic, problem-solving approaches.

In our meeting today we discussed potential ways forward on several other bilateral issues on which we are prepared to intensify our engagement in the coming weeks and months.

•We discussed steps that the United States and the EU could take to facilitate the lifting of EU emergency measures, last modified in 2008, requiring that all U.S. shipments of long-grain rice be tested prior to entering the EU for the trace presence of a biotech rice product approved in the United States but not approved in the EU. Discussions on this issue among European Commission and U.S. government agriculture and trade experts will continue in the coming weeks.

•We exchanged ideas on potential steps to address the WTO dispute on Section 110(5) of the U.S. Copyright Act (the so-called "Irish music" dispute), which relates to music licensing. We directed our staffs to explore new options on this dispute in the coming weeks.

•We agreed to initiate a practical dialogue on the trade implications of chemicals regulation in the United States and the EU. We directed our staffs to discuss the substantive agenda and format for this dialogue in the coming weeks.

We discussed the European Commission Trade Barrier Regulation Report on online gambling and its implications for the WTO rights and obligations of the parties concerned. (emphasis added)

We also discussed the continuing efforts of the EU and other WTO members to reach agreement on the terms of the EU's importation regime for bananas. We share an interest in resolving longstanding disputes on banana trade on terms acceptable to all concerned parties, and will work with all parties to this end.

We plan to monitor each of these issues closely, and we look forward to reviewing progress in addressing them in September. Our discussion also touched upon how better to cooperate in preventing disputes and on preparations for the fall meeting of the Transatlantic Economic Council.


What did the EC investigation reveal?

Quote:
The investigation focussed on US measures that prevent the cross-border supply of gambling and betting services into US territory while allowing certain types of remote supply of gambling and betting services within the US territory, both on an intrastate and interstate basis.

The investigation found that US laws prohibiting the cross-border supply of remote gambling and betting services as well as their enforcement against Community companies were in violation of Articles XVI and XVII of the GATS, and were not justified under Article XIV of the GATS. As a consequence, the investigation established the existence of an obstacle to trade in the sense of the Trade Barriers Regulation. Moreover, the investigation showed that adverse trade effects within the meaning of the Trade Barriers Regulation existed and had been caused by the obstacle to trade identified. The investigation concluded that action is necessary in the interests of the Community. (emphasis added) (From the EC Web site accessed July 24/09)


Action necessary but when?

Quote:
Tell the commish to belly up to the baise and get on with it, for goodness sake. Everything must be done to prevent any further selective prosecutions of remote gambling operators by the U.S.. Prohibition 2.0 wherever you are constitutes restraint of trade and this in a time of financial crisis. It's time to act!

Yes, and share your trade story with Ambassador Kirk. Apparently, he wants you to! Tell him what Prohibition 2.0 has cost you.


Here's the e-mail PokerPulse sent Ambassador Kirk:

Quote:
July 24/09

Hello Ambassador Kirk,

PokerPulse is a small family Web business in Vancouver, B.C., Canada, one of many, many similar operations worldwide, that relies on advertising for revenue. Our efforts to track Internet poker and, thanks to the constant threat of U.S. prosecution, the laws affecting Internet gambling - esp yours! - until UIGEA, 2006 (Prohibition 2.0) generated enough revenue to feed and shelter our small family. Nothing too fancy - nothing even close to the over-the-top Ocean Eleven-ish Vegas operators - but everyone got to the dentist regularly.

When the U.S. barred remote operators from accepting U.S. bets, you very nearly took us out!

Quite simply, Americans are the quintessential gamblers. You wrote the book on risk. You're the best, hands down. You changed the online game to Texas Hold'em and now gamblers worldwide aren't satisfied unless they can play Americans. Without you in the game, our advertisers pull out. Without them, we're dead.

And for what, really?

Surely you wouldn't insult Britain by suggesting the industry is somehow beyond regulation? Clearly it's not. Nor is the notion of tax revenue repellent to your govt, as we've observed from the recent series of extra-territorial, extremely selective prosecutions in which the U.S., frankly, extorted a percentage of what IT considered to be the proceeds of crime. Definitely not your finest hour. No, and the world continues to stare in fascinated horror as you literally destroy the economy of a tiny developing country that diplomatically sought and even OBTAINED! U.S. approval before embarking on a new service-based, technology-driven, green planet-friendly industry.

Unfortunately, despite a double-victory at the World Trade Organization (WTO), Antigua has been unable to persuade you to see sense or even offer to DISCUSS a reasonable settlement. Not enough muscle, I suppose. Well, the European Communities (EC) are not similarly hampered. They'll have Antigua's win to give them the right terms of art on which to base their challenge PLUS they'll have years and years of trade expertise on which to draw. In short, they'll win and you'll have paid - TWICE.

How will you explain the EC challenge to U.S. taxpayers, especially the bitter reps of industries that had nothing to do with gambling but that were hit nonetheless with concessions in the GATS-slash huzzah? How will you tell everyone that you might have avoided the cost of a new challenge by a simple stroke of the pen to allow adults to choose the ways in which they spend their leisure time? Because this time around, many operations like mine will do our best to tell U.S. citizens just how much of their tax dollars their trade officials intend to lavish on Europeans in the name of whatever rationale you have for maintaining Prohibition 2.0. Here's a sample of the sort of spin you can look forward to if the EC follows through and it certainly should if you don't stop this nonsense: http://pokerpulse.com/legal/viewtopic.php?p=672#672

Like the movie title said, Do the Right Thing.

L.M. Murray
PokerPulse.com
Vancouver, Canada


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 17, 2009 4:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

PartyGaming, Pokerstars, Sportingbet join Washington lobby to re-open U.S. market:

Telegraph.co.uk
The great British lobby
A technology group advised by David Blunkett, the former Home Secretary, is one of several British companies spending millions of pounds lobbying American politicians in a bid to shape legislation in the US.
By Jonathan Sibun
Aug. 15/09


Quote:
UC Group, an online payment services group, has spent some $5.23m (£3.2m) on lobbying fees in recent years, one of several companies deploying millions to influence gambling legislation in the US. Sportingbet, PartyGaming and Pokerstars have all hired high profile lobbying firms in the US to represent their interests as they prepare for the likely opening-up of the US online gaming market.

Ten UK companies from a range of industry sectors, including British Airways and Virgin Atlantic, the airlines, and Anglo-American, the mining company, have spent $3.5m in lobbying fees since the beginning of September last year, according to analysis by The Sunday Telegraph. While lobbying in the US is legal and a recognised part of Washington's political culture, many people will be surprised by the extent of British companies' involvement in the process. ...

UC Group acts for 10 gaming companies, offering back-office and anti-money laundering operations and hopes to profit from any opening of the market. The group has worked to promote Senator Barney Frank's efforts to overturn the ban on online gaming. The size of the company's lobbying expenses – which stretch to $2.31m since last September – are particularly eye-catching given it made just £3m in pre-tax profits last year. Kobus Paulsen, UC Group's chief executive, suggested it was part of the group's long-term strategy. "We are certain that our efforts will yield an open market for non-US based gaming operators," he said.

Ruth Parasol and Russell De Leon, the PartyGaming founders, have spent up to £929,000 on lobbying fees since last September to influence online gaming legislation in the US. It remains unclear whether any of those fees have been channelled towards lobbying over issues related to their potential prosecution for allegedly breaking US laws banning internet gambling. Anurag Diskit, another founder, stunned the gaming industry in April this year by pleading guilty to breaking US laws and agreeing to pay a $300m fine. Ms Parasol, Mr De Leon and a third founder, Vikrant Bhargava, have yet to settle with the US Department of Justice.

Lobbying records for Sportingbet, the online gaming firm that also faces potential charges, show the company has paid $60,000 over the last year in relation to the "settlement of potential criminal charges related to online gambling".

... Camelot Group, the operator of the National Lottery in the UK, registered as a lobbying company in the US in November 2008. The group spent $20,000 in fees lobbying on issues on "federal regulations regarding private companies managing state lottery systems" before terminating its contract with O'Neill and Associates, the lobbying firm, in April this year. The strategy appeared to pay dividends in June when the California State Lottery Commission approved the release of up to $13.5m to pay consultancy fees to outside advisers, with Camelot expected to be the chief beneficiary.

... Meanwhile, the London Stock Exchange has spent up to $45,000 lobbying on regulatory issues over the last year. ...


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