A Swiss legal expert claims new online gambling legislation is unlikely to be implemented in the country for many years to come.
At this year’s iGB Live Amsterdam conference, Dr. Simon Planzer, a partner of Planzer Law – a law firm specializing in European and Swiss gaming – said that the country faces a long road to developing an online gambling framework.
Why is this so?
On June 10, 2018, Swiss voters approved a referendum that called for increased controls on several aspects of gambling, including a ban on online services offered by all international operators.
It was put forward after the government claimed that gamblers in the country spend roughly CHF250m ($253m; £189m) per year on unregulated foreign betting sites.
But campaigners highlighted that the move would actually cost the government money, as the new law raises the threshold on taxable winnings from 1,000 Swiss francs to one million.
Despite this, and despite accusations that the law amounts to online censorship, the new gambling act won the support of 72.9% of voters.
Switzerland’s citizens could, therefore, find themselves cut off from much of the online gambling world in 2019. Once the new laws come into effect, major international online gambling operators in Europe and around the globe will be banned from offering their service to Swiss gamblers.
Switzerland’s residents will still be able to gamble online, but only at sites that are offered by the country’s 21 land-based casinos, which until now have been land-based only.
The new rules will be backed by government-ordered blacklisting of all international operators, a move that drew a significant backlash from net-neutrality and anti-censorship groups in Switzerland.
Switzerland’s future online firewalling will form the most restrictive online-gambling framework in Europe.
What does the expert say?
Speaking at the iGB Live Amsterdam conference, Dr. Planzer explained that despite the Swiss parliament approving the mandate of the Money Gaming Act (MGA) in 2017, the application of new online gambling laws could take years to implement.
With Swiss Confederation legislative complexities to work through, the full mandate is a huge undertaking for the government to adhere to.
Swiss government options
Should Switzerland’s government move ahead with the provisions of the MGA mandate, Planzer details the following likely scenarios for online gambling;
– A tightly monitored ring-fenced regime, with a capped number of licenses thought to be weighted in the favor of Swiss gambling enterprises.
– Online betting/gambling licenses certified directly by the Swiss government
– Stricter internet and banking restrictions including stringent IP blocks, bans on third-party marketing, and limiting banking transactions.
– Further taxation and a rise on the current 20%.
Still attractive for operators
Still, despite sustaining a population of just 8.5 million citizens, Switzerland remains an attractive proposition for industry operators as it holds the world’s richest working median per adult.
This is despite the possibility of many incremental tax charges, such as an increase from 20% for the first CHF3m ($3m; £2.3m) of revenues to 40% GGR up to CHF10m ($10m; £7.6m). There are even thoughts to cap out at a maximum 80% rate for every further CHF1m ($1m; £767,474).
Certainly, some countries are eager to see what happens next, not least Norway. Several organizations in the country have pushed for legislation that will block foreign betting operators and instead grant extended authority to the Lottery Authority.
Essentially, these measures will block all sites belonging to foreign-based operators, creating a poker ban. The proposed standards were accepted on May 7, 2018, and are likely to be implemented shortly.
With the current regulation changes dragging on for three years already, this information will not be the news that operators were hoping for. Although, with 26 autonomous Cantons to pass through on the way to legislative changes, the outcome could look very different by the time the final draft is received.