Swiss Voters Get A Voice On Online Betting Domain-Blocking

Swiss Voters Get A Voice On Online Betting Domain-Blocking

Switzerland’s plans to deactivate the domains of globally licensed betting websites will be subjected to a referendum after rivals successfully collected sufficient signatures to block the move. On January 18th, 2018, a group of Switzerland’s political party youth groups, civil liberty lawyers, and internet service providers submitted a 60,000 signature petition protesting the state’s plan to block all international gaming operators from accepting action from Switzerland punters.

New Gambling Laws

The state passed new gaming laws in 2017 that will enable Switzerland’s land-based casinos’ providers to provide online betting services while ensuring that there is no rivalry from an unlicensed international website. The Swiss parliament’s lower house voted for this bill, despite strong resistant from the Greens and Swiss People’s Party. The upper house had also approved the law. The land-based casinos have long blamed the international websites for their declining income, despite recent trend showing the contrary. 

What the Law States

However, Swiss law affirms that all new laws can be disputed by Swiss voters if at least 50,000 voters sign an appeal within 100 days of the laws’ passage. The anti-blocking appeal easily exceeded the required target by the end of January 18th, 2018 deadline. The state must now check the signatures for their validity and then set a date for a referendum. 

Differing Opinions

Andir Silberschmidt, the president and leader of the Free Democratic Party (FDP) youth league that championed the petition drive, informed the local media that the voters who had signed the appeal don’t want the state to interfere with legal online matters. He also added that they don’t want the protection of domestic gambling industry.  

The Switzerland Federation of Casinos (SFC) was angered by the successful appeal campaign, which it argued was only possible because of the financial support of the annoying international website casino operators. The federation issued a statement stating that overturning the enacted law would lead to more gambling problems, less fund for social projects, as well as great clouds of people swarming over the Alps.

This argument was rubbished by Lukas Reimann, Switzerland People’s Party (SVP) member, who reminded the local media that website-blocking was previously ineffective at attaining its objectives. Lukas also stated that the state income from online betting would at least double if other websites were allowed to register for local licenses.   

Lukas also had problems with the SFC’s statement against international casino operators’ support for the appeal campaign, stating that the highest percentage of the local casinos is owned by foreigners. In short, Lukas argued that he was against the unfair regulation in the industry and noted that the new laws clearly have the marks of the local land-based casinos.

In Conclusion

Only time will tell who will carry the day as the petitioners and the state continue to push for their differing point of view. Ultimately, it might be the Swiss voter to decide the future of international online gambling websites and their space in this nation.                      

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