Switzerland’s New Gaming Law May Go Through a Referendum
Swiss legislation that aimed at modernizing the country’s current gaming laws has succeeded in receiving the final vote in parliament. Called the Money Gaming Act, the legislation covers both, the online gambling industry as well as the land-based casino industry.
The legislation will be replacing significantly older laws that were enacted as far back as 1923. The country’s previous amendment was made only in 1998.
The earlier laws had outlawed online gambling. However, since they weren’t clearly drafted, it was possible for international operators to leverage loopholes in order to cater to Swiss players. But, with the new law in place, operators will have open access to the Swiss market. However, with one condition – the operators will have to be local and also possess a land-based presence in the country.
The legislation also requires ISPs (Internet Service Providers) to prevent international operators from accessing Swiss customers. In return, the Swiss government will compensate the ISPs by meeting their expenses with regard to their efforts in complying with the new requirement.
Also, taxes from winnings on lotteries and sports betting will only be applicable to CHF1m and above. Land-based casinos will not be taxed on their winnings.
Another major change is that the new legislation will even allow the organizing of small-scale poker tournaments. But, the tournaments will have to be conducted outside the premises of the respective casino.
The legislation is also loaded with safeguards and policies that offer increased protection to players from risks.
There has been some opposition to the Money Gaming Act from quarters such as the Free Democratic Party, the Swiss People’s Party, and the Green Liberal Party. Most of the opposition is focused on the clause that places the onus on ISPs to block international operators.
Critics feel that this clause can be exploited to interfere with the free movement of services via the Internet and also restrict access to the Internet. Currently, groups against the act are campaigning for a referendum to be held on the new legislation.
In order for the legislation to be brought up for a referendum, the opposition will have to acquire over 50,000 signatures from citizens. It is reported that the opposition has already begun collecting the signatures. They will be provided with a period of 100 days within which they must meet the requirement.