Swiss gambling reform sees foreign betting sites banned

Swiss gambling reform sees foreign betting sites banned

Monday, June 11, 2018 Posted by Craig Davies
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New gambling act to take effect in early 2019

Swiss voters have shown their hand with regards to online gambling, by electing to block all foreign sites from serving the nation’s players, in a national referendum conducted yesterday (Sunday June 10).

Under the terms of the new gambling act Swiss casinos are able to offer online versions of roulette, blackjack and poker, with licensed operators of sports betting and lotteries also cleared to offer new forms of gambling in the future.

The new act won an overwhelming approval rating of 72.9 per cent, in spite of a low turnout of 33.8 per cent, which has seen it forwarded for adoption into law, with it slated to be in effect at the start of 2019.

This follows a compromise by parliament made in September of last year, regarding taxes on winnings for sports bets and lotteries, which cleared the way for the previous 1923 Lotteries and Betting Act and the 1998 Gambling Act to be replaced.

More specifically it sees the limit on tax free winnings raised to CHF1 million ($1.029 million), from its previous figure of CHF1,000 ($1,040), a point which opponents of the new law have raised as contentious, claiming this could have the adverse effect of costing the government money.

Those objecting this move have also objected that the new gambling act will leave the monopoly of the nation’s 21 casinos in tact, whilst stating that the blocking of foreign sites amounts to censorship of the internet.

Following progression through both houses of parliament, the new law ensures offshore entities will be inaccessible, with only Swiss certified casinos and gaming firms legally approved to operate.

Supporters have hailed the tougher stance being made with regards to online gambling, which could help tackle such issues as protection to minors, anti-money laundering and problem gambling, with praise also heaped on the financial aid potentially being brought to Switzerland.   

Regarding the overhaul, Justice Minister Simonetta Sommaruga is quoted in local media as stating “voters prefer to continue the current policy, only allowing gambling under restrictions”.

Totally Gaming says: With the Swiss government claiming gamblers in the country currently spend €215m on unregulated foreign sites, the move to adopt such an act into law comes as no real surprise. Despite the objections, and numerous points made, a 72.9 per cent approval is quite a significant majority, with the government also keen to stress that despite this amended law, it will not set a precedent for other websites to be blocked.

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