New legislation to regulate online and offline gambling was adopted by the Swiss Parliament that will limit the activity to a set number of operators based in Switzerland only, according to SWI swissinfo.ch.
While online gambling will be legalized for the first time in the country, it will be limited to operators who possess a valid gaming license from Swiss authorities for their land-based casinos. The legislation will place limits on the number of concessions for gaming and betting providers operating in the country, and operators without a license will be excluded from offering online gambling as well, according to IP-Watch.
The Senate had previously approved the block.
Having emerged again in late December and in January, the proposed block of international operators drew criticism from the Swiss Association for Information, Communications and Organization Technology warning that introducing any kind of Internet blocks could be detrimental to online security and the country’s digital economy as well as the likelihood of the blocks being largely ineffective and inaccurate.
Franz Grütter from the far-right Swiss People’s Party (SVP) said that blocking isn’t in keeping with the “liberal, democratic way of thinking,” He said, “It’s what dictatorships do,” according to SWI.
Local casino operators and sports betting providers, however, will benefit from the measure as their complaint has been that they’ve lost out on revenue to their international competition. The new legislation is also a win for authorities as online gambling revenue of Chf 320 million Swiss francs is deposited into the Swiss Social Security system (AHV) on a yearly basis. And Chf 560 million in licensed sports betting revenue makes its way to the canton authorities, who us the monies to pay for sports and cultural programs for the general population, according to IP-Watch.
In addition to blocking, the government also discussed tax matters. Legislators, however, appear not to be able to agree on how or if proceeds from gambling activities would be taxed. As much as CHF1 million in lottery and sports betting winnings was proposed by the Senate to remain tax-free, while the call from the House of Representatives was to have all winnings remain untaxed, as reported.
The Swiss Parliament’s spring legislative session runs from February 27 to March 17, which means the government has less than two weeks to agree on a solution regarding the issues facing the new iGaming regulations. Discussions regarding matters related to gambling are reportedly scheduled to take place on March 15.