International online operators are banned from operating in the Swiss market from July 2019. This measure comes after the Swiss Money Gaming Act was introduced at the beginning of the year.
Regulated Online Gambling
The Swiss Money Gambling Act came into effect as of January 1, 2019, after it was approved by a national referendum last year, receiving support from almost three-quarters of the voters. The new gambling legislation implements one of Europe’s strictest gambling laws and will essentially block foreign-based operators from the Swiss market. This will force citizens of the country to gamble only with Swiss casinos that hold online gambling licenses issued by the country’s gambling regulator Eidgenössische Spielbankenkommission (ESBK).
All platforms which are accessible in Switzerland, but not licensed will be added to a blacklist by the country’s gaming regulator. The domains of sites on this list will be blocked by a domain name server (DNS) lock with all internet providers. Sites which do not operate in Switzerland, or those who seize operations on the market before July 2019, will not be listed. The first two operators in the list are likely to be published within a few months.
The Swiss Money Gaming Act (Geldspielgesetz) came in support of the government’s bid to counteract gambling addiction and protect players from the negative effects of gambling. According to Addiction Switzerland, gambling addiction affects around 75,000 people in the country, costing the nation more than half a million Swiss Francs (€450,000) annually. Another reason cited by the government is the fact that foreign sites receive more than CHF250 million ($252 million) annually, without paying anything back to the Alpine nation.
The new gambling law requires all casino operators in Switzerland, which also want to offer online gambling to have their games technically certified. Additionally, the casinos need to make sure that their gaming providers have a good reputation on the market. So far the Federal council has issued licenses to four of the country’s land-based casinos: Grand Casino Baden, Casino Davos, Grand Casino Luzern, and Casino Zürichsee. Other establishments are also currently applying for a license. These operators will be able to offer online gamblers in Switzerlands casino games such as poker and roulette legally. They will, however, have to adhere to strict measures listed by the law such as setting maximum sums on bets, daily and monthly limits. For poker, the maximum entry fee can be CHF200 (€176) and a total value of CHF200,000(€176 000) for total stakes on the day. The limit of lotteries and raffles will depend on the type of license of the lottery.
International sites will still be given an opportunity to operate legally in the country, however, through partnerships with one of the Swiss 21 brick-and-mortar establishments in the future, although local online operators will be given a priority over international rivals.
Where can Swiss Gamblers Play Online?
Many foreign casinos have already started blocking visitors with Swiss IP addresses on their sites. Those who are still accessible will be eventually put in a black list and blocked by internet providers.
Swiss players will be able to use one of the four online gambling providers available in the country or will have to wait for their favorite casino to get licensed with a local land-based provider. Some casino providers like the Stars group have already announced plans for partnering with local brands to offer their services to the Swiss masses. However, no time-frame has been announced yet.
There is nothing specified in the law regarding any sort of punishment for Swiss citizens conducting gambling activities in unlicensed sites. It also remains unclear what measures will be taken for monitoring if the citizens abide by the law and how strict the law will be on them otherwise.
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