Switzerland is set to make an important decision on the future of gambling in their country. The referendum, which would modify the current gambling laws, would radically affect the way gambling is conducted in the central European nation. Voters are expected to vote on the referendum in June of 2018.
The current referendum under consideration is known as the “Money Gaming Act.” If passed the “Money Gaming Act” would update the laws regarding land-based gaming in addition to online gaming in Switzerland. This law would replace existing gaming rules in effect, which does not account for online gaming. The referendum would conclude an almost three-year process which began with Swiss Parliament looking to update gaming laws that were last restructured in 1998.
As of right now, “online gaming” is technically illegal in Switzerland. However, it is believed that online gaming operations from other countries are being used by Swiss citizens. And this illegal online gambling is depriving the Swiss government of tax revenue as well as regulatory control within their borders.
The new law would require online gaming operations to be registered with the Swiss government. Also, all online based gaming services would be required to have some sort of land-based operation inside of Switzerland. This online plus land-based casino requirement means that only a handful of gaming companies will have the capital to operate within Swiss borders.
One of the provisions of the “Money Gaming Act” will require IP providers to block any online gaming operations which are not licensed by the Swiss government. Currently, there is no such barrier to prevent Swiss citizens from using any online gaming operations. That may be because some online gaming operations are under regulation from European jurisdictions.
The process of passing the “Money Gaming Act” has been met with resistance with several Swiss political parties including the Free Democratic Party and the Green Liberals. These political parties insist that the new law would breach the European Law that allows the free movement of business across the internet.
After years of debate, the “Money Gaming Act” passed through the Swiss Bern Parliament in September of 2017. Now, the act is sent to Swiss citizens in a June 2018 referendum. Those who support the bill have accused opponents of being supported by foreign online casinos. And those who support the bill insist that the “Money Gaming Act” is critical to allow the Swiss government to control gambling operations within its borders.
If the bill passes its June 2018 referendum, casino events such as live poker would be allowed to be played online for the first time. Additionally, the new law would tax casino winnings above 1 million Swiss francs – a tax that is already in place for lottery and sport bet winnings from land-based sportsbook operations.