Switzerland to Ban Offshore Online Gambling After Referendum
Another nail was placed in the offshore gaming coffin when Switzerland’s citizens overwhelmingly voted in favor of a ban on foreign gambling sites being offered to Swiss players. The vote, which was held on Sunday, has come back with initial estimates of almost 75% of the voters in favor of the ban, which would make it illegal for operators not licensed by the Swiss government to offer online gambling inside Switzerland’s borders.
This new gambling law replaces the Gambling Act of 1998, and while it passed with an overwhelming majority, only 33% of eligible voters participated in the referendum. There was plenty of opposition to this law, as could be seen by the initial challenge to the regulations. However, at the end of the day, the issue simply wasn’t important enough to garner the votes needed to crush the changes.
There are two issues at hand in Switzerland with regards to gambling. First, there are concerns about a growing number of problem gamblers in the country, and closing off the option of playing at an offshore online gambling site would go a long way to controlling what the population wants. This was the main source of the opposition, as this was considered by many to be an attack on the freedoms of the citizens.
The second source of concern was that the regulated gambling in Switzerland contributed an estimated 1 Billion a year to the government’s social reforms and old age pension. Players who chose to take their business offshore would no longer be contributing to that pool which is needed to assist the Swiss in times of need.
A spokesperson for the Radical Party, Marcel Dobler, said of the decision
“We may have lost this battle, but put the issue of blocked internet sites on the political agenda.”
Now, what does this all mean for Swiss gamblers? Well, first off, it moves the country closer to other European countries who have made attempts to control problem gambling and lost tax revenues by regulating the space. For the time being, players will continue to be able to play at their favorites sites, as the ban does not take full effect until 2019.
At that time, companies who are licensed by the Swiss government will be able to operate within the country. These regulations may prove to be too much for some companies to bother with. Larger companies like 888 may not draw enough revenue from the region to justify paying the taxes and licensing fees, and could conceivably move out of the market. However, bettors in Switzerland shouldn’t worry too much. There will always be options, and the idea of helping give back to something that all Swiss will need one day seems like a worthy enough reason to not take gambling money and send it offshore.
There will be a lot more to come from this decision, including an overview of the regulations and the application process. We will bring you the most up to date information as it is received.
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