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Isle of Man welcomes US online punters

Net casinos hungry for bucks

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The Isle of Man now allows US punters to gamble in online casinos based on the island, the NY Times reports. The announcement will rattle US authorities opposed to American citizens having a flutter beyond the reach of US legislation.

Indeed, US prosecutors have launched a series of actions against operations doing business with foreign online casinos. Some credit cards, Amex included, do not allow customers to gamble on the web at all. In response, the WTO recently declared that this prohibition of cross-border trade breaks breached the 1994 general agreement on trade and services, and ruled in favour of Caribbean nation Antigua and Barbuda in the matter.

The Isle of Man has operated online casinos since 2001, initially attracting some big-bucks operators including MGM Mirage. However, after an initial boom, a flattened market provoked many, MGM among them, to shut down their Irish Sea operations.

The island's new policy came into force on 1 January, and is clearly an attempt to revitalise the online gambling economy. Tim Craine, the head of electronic business for the Isle of Man, said: "There's a lot of business looking to relocate to a reputable, regulated jurisdiction. We're hoping to capitalize on that business by changing our policy."

Craine confirmed that the Isle of Man is particularly looking to attract representatives of the burgeoning online poker business, currently worth between $2m and $2.5m per day worldwide. ®

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