Switzerland Says: Ban Foreign Online Casinos

There’s new legislation on the books for players in Switzerland, as their government moves to block foreign betting sites. These legislators are putting their foot down and preventing foreign operators from offering games to their players. Whether this is censorship or good practice remains to be seen.

The New Gambling Act

The Gambling Act, which will take effect in 2019, will block any foreign gaming sites from offering real money bets to Swiss players. Voters turned out in droves with 72.9% of them opting to pass the law. There were some controversial moments within the campaign, in which those against the law accused the government of censorship.

This will be one of the strictest laws of its kind across all of Europe. It will only allow operators certified in Switzerland to be able to offer their products. The government’s view is that it will cut down on gambling addiction in the country.

The legislation has now been passed but campaigners are still working to repeal this. This Swiss online gambling referendum is incredibly divisive, with mainly younger players picking a point of contention. This will limit their gaming choices to purely Swiss online casinos, which may not be entirely to their liking.

So far, these campaigns have gained the 50K signatures from citizens required to challenge the new legislation. However, with the law making process already very much underway, it may be difficult for them to stop it now. This is similar to the process that we have in the UK, which allows an issue to be debated in parliament when a set amount of momentum is gained.

Enforcing Strict Rules

The Swiss government claims that the act is a necessary requirement. They want to have more recourse to block addicts and work to create a better gaming space. By allowing only Swiss companies to flog their wares, they have more control over how they police access. This also allows them to levy fines where they feel appropriate, without having to worry about the rules of other countries.

Justice Minister Simonetta Sommaruga stated that the taxation from the laws would be able to fund a longer term plan. This will create further revenue to allow the Swiss government to prioritise the protection of their citizens.

Right now, gamblers spend around 250 million Swiss francs on the entertainment every year on foreign sites. This is equal to around £189million, which is comparable to the economy elsewhere. Naysayers feel that the move will end up costing the government more, instead of being able to fund further projects. This is because the amount of tax based on winnings will decrease, as there will be a higher threshold before tax is applied.

This will mean that casino winners are able to keep more of their winnings for themselves, rather than losing them in taxation. This will be good for players, but will potentially impact the amount that the government will be able to make from taxation.

The main issue with the new law for protestors is that it sets a precedent in which the government can effectively block websites that they don’t agree with. The younger protestors feel that this is an overstepping of the government’s remit, as they shouldn’t be able to block legitimate services. This is a serious concern in the wake of internet freedom concerns.

With so many laws changing at the moment, this is one that will seriously impact those in this country in the long term. This will potentially end up creating a massive appeals process in which the Swiss people will make their own voices heard.