Ban of Foreign Online Gambling Operators in Switzerland

A vote was cast for the proposed ban on the provision of online gambling which is provided by offshore operators in Switzerland. A VOTO study shows that there was no difference in the way all age groups voted in favor of the proposed ban. Assessments provided by VOTO, are collected after every referendum that occurs in Switzerland. The project to ban the provision of online gambling offered by foreign offshore operators began in September 2016. The Swiss Federal Council initiated the plan to ban online gaming supplied by foreign operators and was executed by the FORS Research Center, LINK survey institute, and the Center for Democracy.

A referendum that was held last month was approved by Swiss nationals concerning the proposed prohibition of online gambling services that are provided by unauthorized offshore companies. These services have taken advantage of loopholes in the Swiss gambling laws that target local gamblers. Last fall, the new Swiss Money Gaming Act was approved by the Federal Council which is Switzerland’s supreme legislature. Under this new law that becomes active on January 1, 2019, only Switzerland land-based casinos can offer online gambling opportunities, so domains of unauthorized foreign gambling companies will be blocked by internet service providers.

Youth organizations belonging to several major parties started a petition to call a referendum to overturn the ban, debating that it violated principles for the free movement of services. For the referendum, 72.9 percent of the voters who cast their votes approved of the proposed ban. Seventy-four percent of the voters aged 18-29 support the offshore online gambling ban. Seventy-seven percent over the age of 60 also supported the proposal. People aged 30-39 supported the law by a 61 percent majority. The VOTO study also shows that lobbyist from the youth branches of the political parties, who tried to convince voters against the ban, had no influence over them. The VOTO study also showed that the majority of voters from all age groups voted in favor of the new Money Gaming Act.

Swiss lawmakers will have to create a secondary piece of legislation detailing how legal online gambling services will be provided for the Swiss gamblers as soon as the Money Gaming Act becomes effective beginning next year. Even though the new law will be put in place to prevent international online gambling operators from infiltrating the local gambling market, foreign suppliers of gaming products and services will be able to join with land-based casinos to provide gambling opportunities to Swiss customers.

Reports show that foreign gambling suppliers will have a difficult time functioning in the re-regulated Swiss market because the Federal Council is planning a provision that would require foreign gambling suppliers to have operated ethically for at least five years prior to a potential partnership with any of Switzerland’s land casinos. International providers would have to prove that they had not provided any Swiss customers with gambling goods or services for the past five years to be considered ethical and worthy of joining with the Swiss land casinos. It’s speculated that a large number of the well-known foreign companies of the gambling industry will be incapable of meeting the new requirement.