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A World Trade Organization appeals panel is expected to rule today on whether the United States should drop prohibitions on Americans placing bets in online casinos -- a decision that could open the nation to Internet gambling.

If the appeals panel rules against Washington, it could allow U.S. residents to take part in offshore Internet gambling.

The United States contends that Internet gambling should be prohibited because it violates some U.S. state laws.

"The WTO is not the most popular organization in the U.S., but how can we tell other nations they have to follow (its rulings) on steel tariffs and trade, if we don't follow their decision on gambling," Joseph M. Kelly, a professor of business law at Buffalo State College, told the New York Post.

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