Switzerland Approves Online Gambling Bill, but Not Everyone is Happy

Lee R. - June 12, 2018

Switzerland has approved an online gambling bill that freezes out foreign operators.

Online gambling in Switzerland is in, foreign operators are not.

Foreign Gaming Blocked

By an overwhelming and sweeping vote, Swiss voters supported an already approved Parliamentary measure to legalize iGaming by certifying Swiss online casinos, with the caveat that internet access providers block all foreign betting sites.

The Winning Tally

The final support toll for the new Gambling Act was 72.9% of voters, which heftily overrode the primary opposition argument that the law amounts to online censorship.

Tough Stance Nonetheless

The opening of iGaming in Switzerland in 2019 is actually considered one of Europe’s stiffer regulation stances.

The reason for the key qualifier according to the government is the drive towards tackling problem gambling and addiction.

Staying Faithful to Initiatives

Swiss Justice Minister Simonetta Sommaruga explained the bans as necessary to ensure compliance national gambling laws, which are focussed on a mandate to block known addicts.

Sommaruga further voiced his concern over Swiss gamblers to this point sending some 250 million francs ($254 million) to foreign gambling sites outside Swiss jurisdiction who do not contribute taxes to Swiss government funded and mandated anti-gambling programs.

Arguments Against

Opposing arguments called for the government to offer incentives to companies who agree to be taxed, and finding further fault with the law for ultimately draining away revenues by raising the threshold for taxable winnings from 1000 francs currently to over one million as reported by AFP. Finally, opponents called the majority of support backed by large casinos, or those interests who stand to benefit the most from blocking out foreign operators.

The Opponents

This opposition tallied out to a referendum of over 50,000 signatures gathered to overturn the Gambling Act.

The campaigners against were comprised primarily of youth wings of political parties from both the right and left who argued that the law would pave the way for state censorship of the internet.

Holding the Course

However, politicians were not perturbed in their pursuit of protective gambling laws, with proponent Karl Vogler of the Christian Democrats ultimately calling approval of the law a "pragmatic decision by Swiss voters who want to continue funding civil society projects with revenue of the casinos and lotteries.”

Time Will Tell

Vast amounts of money currently being spent in the existing 21 licensed Swiss casinos, lotteries, and commercial betting services. If the largest spoils go to the largest backers, consider it a win for Big Business. If the statistics on problem gambling go down and investment in social programming from taxation revenue in Switzerland goes up, consider it a triumph of the system. 

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