People of Switzerland Challenging Controversial Online Gambling BillPublished January 22, 2018 by Ivan P
Forces behind the referendum challenging the new online gambling bill in Switzerland question the government's right to interfere and protectionism in favor of domestic casinos.
Following in the footsteps of several European countries, Switzerland passed an online gambling bill last year, which gives country's land-based casinos the right to set up online operations and requires ISPs to block access to foreign online gambling sites.
The proposed law was adopted in September of 2017 and was supposed to come into force this month (January 2018). However, this won't be smooth sailing Swiss legislators probably hoped for, as the new bill will be challenged by a nation-wide referendum.
People to Have Their Say
The Swiss law gives a fair amount of influence to the people, allowing for any law to be challenged if there is at least 50,000 signatures to support the challenge. A group consisting of various parties that would be influenced by the new law, from politicians and civil liberty advocates to internet service providers, successfully gathered 60,000 signatures questioning the legislation, which means the government will have to allow the issue to be solved via a referendum.
Saying No to Protectionism and Government Interference
According to Andri Silberschmidt of the Free Democratic Party youth league, one of the major forces behind the referendum movement, people who signed the petition are against the government interference and the protectionism for local casinos.
Not surprisingly, the Swiss Federation of Casinos isn't happy about the movement and they claim it is being financed by foreign operators looking to halt the new law. According to SFC, if the new bill isn't passed, there would be an increase in problem gambling and the government won't be able to collect nearly as much funds for social projects.
However, Swiss People Party, another force behind the movement, refutes these arguments, claiming that domain blocking isn't an effective strategy. Furthermore, if foreign online casinos were allowed to apply for local licenses, they believe the income from online gambling would more than double.
Unlike some other European countries where local casino monopoly was enacted with no questions asked, Swiss will have their say in the whole matter and the new bill will come into force only if there is a true majority supporting it.