Switzerland to Block Online Gambling

In January it was announced Switzerland would vote about allowing online gambling sites. The results of that vote are now out. Citizens want online gambling, but they voted in favor of local casinos offering online gaming sites and blocking international competitors.

The vote results appeared in Sunday’s news with close to three-quarters of residents voting in favor of the new gambling law. The gambling law was already approved in the fall of 2017; however, the Free Democratic Party challenged the law going into effect without a vote from the people.

The Swiss gambling law will start in 2019, where land-based casinos can get the right to expand online. Local internet service providers will need to block domains of online sites that are international in origin, unless it has a partnership with a land-based casino.

Feared Precedent for Law

The younger individuals who could vote were not happy about the new gambling law and the restriction of blocking certain domains. They feared it would set a precedent for other laws about blocking websites that the government might find objectionable. However, older voters like the idea of ensuring the government can fund social programs such as pensions, and thus the overall “no” vote was quite low.

Local casinos are in favor of the new arrangement, particularly Swiss Casinos Group’s CEO, Marc Baumann. He issued a statement that their company would not hesitate about getting online gaming up and running now that the vote is in favor. Baumann was accused of trying to bribe a local parliamentarian to get a yes vote going, in exchange for giving the person a board seat.

Swiss Casinos Group has a free-play online casino, and the company stated they are looking at several foreign companies that may provide real-money gaming. Switzerland has chosen a similar situation to Belgium in which land-based partners work with certain groups to provide online operations. Belgium’s Ardent Group, which was Circus Groupe has a 44 percent stake in Stadtcasino Baden AG Casino Davos, which could pave the way for online operations in Switzerland.

Switzerland is still going to have a challenge when it comes to blocking international domains. Online gamblers have been able to find other markets. Swiss operators are also seeing a sliding scale for taxation that is starting at 20 percent and tops out at 80 percent. The more successful an online site is, the more tax they will need to pay, which could hinder their ability to remain competitive.

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