Switzerland votes to tighten grip on igaming

Voters in yesterday’s referendum in Switzerland have backed new gaming legislation that blocks foreign betting sites from serving players in the country.

Set to come into effect from the start of 2019, the new gambling act won a 72.9% majority approvement, despite the relatively low turnout of just 33.8%.

Passed through both houses of parliament, the act is set to empower the 21 casinos of Switzerland, with only Swiss certified casinos and gaming companies able to operate, and their offshore counterparts offering online gambling set to be banned.

Justice Minister Simonetta Sommaruga, quoted by the BBC, said the law would be “indispensable” in the fight against addiction. She also said it would allow the government to fund anti-gambling measures through taxation.

Opponents are concerned about what they argue is effectively online censorship, and the referendum came about after more than 50,000 signatures were gathered to overturn the Gambling Act.

It was one of a number of polls taken over the weekend, with the public also asked to vote on banking regulations and whether Switzerland should bid for the 2026 Winter Olympic Games.

Government figures state that Swiss gamblers currently spend the equivalent of €215 million on unregulated foreign betting sites.

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