Switzerland will see new legislation come into effect at the turn of the year, with online gambling becoming legal in the country as early as January, 2019, but at the expense of foreign operators who haven’t obtained a license.
Switzerland’s Referendum and Consequence for Gambling
In January 2019, Switzerland will follow up on a new set of laws which were accepted after a referendum was held earlier in 2018. The new laws envisage a more relaxed environment for operators which have been issued a Swiss-backed license and will start banning casinos without those that have obtained a Swiss license.
The measure will give local businesses a significant leg-up, though, as it will see offshore agencies leave the country or be blocked entirely. Something similar is happening in the Netherlands where the gambling industry is becoming increasingly relaxed, though, at the same time, the government is not happy with offshore companies and is even planning to increase penalties for any agency which has operated until now without a license, excluding them from any future legal framework.
The Swiss Federal Council has now officially confirmed the so-called Gaming Act, focusing on the domestic market which will see the changes come into force. The referendum was won with an overwhelming majority, with 73% of the voters backing the measure.
At the time of the vote, there was strong opposition from people who weren’t related to any of the businesses, building on the argument that banning offshore operators would actually be tantamount to restricting one’s freedom of choice.
However, garnering support for a cause such as gambling has never been easy, the anti-bill supporters said to representatives of the media.
Meanwhile, the Federal Council is prepared to start accepting license applications in the first six months of 2019 and the institution will act expediently to provide businesses with licenses ahead of July 1 when the restrictions will take hold.
Licensing Will Expand the Scope of the Industry
Licensing operators will also add variety, which means that new segments will be now available. Those include roulette, poker and other table games. However, the introduction of new products isn’t equal to practicing them to one’s heart content.
Instead, the law will establish the reasonable maximum stakes, for example, and the sums of money that can be won via tournaments.
Meanwhile, the country is increasingly trying to fight off a reported raising percentage of gambling addicts on its territory. Gambling addiction has been a much divisive issue in the United Kingdom, too, where laws have been still debated and contested.
The latest measures are part of a broader move targeting both casinos and lotteries at home, but also consolidating Switzerland’s stance against foreign influence. As per the latest reports, people who gamble in Switzerland spend cumulatively CHF 250 million (about the same amount in US dollars).
The revitalization of the gambling industry at home is not only beneficial for domestic operators, though. The country’s retirement fund is one of the main recipients of gambling largesse, as an earmarked amount of the proceedings is invested into it.
This has also helped the pro-lobby build a convincing case during the referendum, predicating their arguments on issues such as problem gambling and the impunity of offshore companies.