online-only gambling licences

Online-only licences call from Swiss think tank

A major Swiss think tank, Avenir Suisse, has made calls for various changes to gambling in Switzerland, such as introducing online-only licences.

The think tank has stated that gambling in Switzerland is both inefficient and often politicised. Politicians have the power to choose where gambling revenue ends up, with an industry of cash distribution growing around two of Switzerland’s main lotteries, Loterie Romandie and Swisslos, which together make up approximately 80 different lottery funds.

The report said that “the distribution of gambling money is not optimal” and that “the cantonal lottery funds regularly finance projects for which the notion of public utility enshrined in the Constitution is interpreted very broadly.”

The study pointed out that the rise in online gambling has increased the challenges of Switzerland’s regulation system. Since regulation is split between national and cantonal level bodies, online gambling means that these lines are becoming blurred.

To combat this, the report identified three necessary areas of change. Firstly, the government should no longer take the role of a gaming operator, instead just focusing on regulation.

Secondly, the two main supervisory bodies in Switzerland, Gespa and Eidgenössische Spielbankenkommission (ESBK) should be combined into a single regulator.

Lastly, it suggested implementing “a modular approach to regulation”, instead of the so-called “analogue-first model” wherein online gambling is an extension to a land-based licence. If the think tank’s system was implemented, there would be an opportunity for operators to apply for online-only licences.

“Unlike the current system, in which digital games are the exception, the opposite is expected to happen in the future,” it said. “Analogue games would be treated as exceptions, which would turn the system upside down.”

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