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Swiss Online Gambling Legislation Set For a Referendum

- January 25, 2018 By Riley Wilson -

A gambling bill referendum set to be held in Switzerland

Switzerland residents to vote on new gambling bill.

The Swiss will have the final say on the country’s online gambling bill after a coalition of political parties managed to get enough votes to take it to a national referendum.

The controversial piece of legislation was adopted in September 2017, and it should have come into force this month. The Money Gaming Act (Geldspielgesetz) represented a huge overhaul of the gambling industry in the country, replacing the outdated laws 1923 and 1998.

What Now?

Under the provisions of the new proposal, the land-based casinos will be able to offer online casino games and poker games to its customers, while local internet service providers (ISP) were given the task to blacklist those gambling sites operating without a Swiss license.

Following the legislature’s approval of the new law, the first to voice their concern were the country’s ISP groups, who claimed the government hadn’t offered any financial backing for the additional responsibilities.

Many expressed their opinion that the law effectively restricted the freedom of the internet, also criticizing it for not offering the right approach when dealing with problem gambling.

Referendum To Decide The Future Of The Law

On the other hand, the proponents of the bill say the critics have received financial support from foreign online casinos and pointed out the importance of the new blacklisting system. According to them, by blocking foreign websites, the local industry could significantly increase its revenue, since millions of Swiss francs are spent outside of the country.

The biggest opposition to the new law is the Young Liberals, along with the youth wing of the Free Democratic Party (FDP) and the Green Party, who used the option to challenge the proposal by collecting 60,000 signatures (10,000 more than necessary). The authorities will first validate the signatures and afterward will announce the date of the referendum.

The new law introduces taxation on all winnings exceeding CHF1 million ($1 million), which is a practice used for the lottery and land-based sports winnings in Switzerland.

According to the proposal, live poker games could be organized outside of casino premises for the first time, but only if tournaments are not organized on a large scale.

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