Four Swiss youth organisations from political parties have gathered signatures to oppose new online gambling laws. Over 50 000 valid signatures have been collected to start a referendum. Their initiative has been supported by the Green Party, the Green Liberal Party, the Free Democratic Party and the Swiss People’s Party youth divisions.
The approved Money Gaming Act (Geldspielgesetz) was passed by politicians in late 2017. However, provision was made for a referendum from 10 October 2017 until January 18 2018. As such, the signatures were gathered from Swiss residents by January 10th. The referendum is expected to overturn certain provisions within the new law.
Swiss Youth Parties against only Local Operators
Provisions in the Money Gaming Act that have motivated this referendum include banning foreign online casino operators. To offer gambling services to Swiss citizens, online casino operators must have a ‘land-based presence’ in the country. This will, in effect, limit gaming options for gamblers in Switzerland. More so, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) may be required to block access to foreign casino sites entirely.
Additionally, Swiss operators without a land-based presence will be banned. The Swiss Youth Parties claim that the block by ISPs violates ‘free movement of services’ laws. They also claim that allowing this practice could bring further restrictions on Internet services. For example, music and video streaming may also be limited if the provision is made legal.
Verified Signatures needed for Referendum
To date, the Swiss Youth Parties have gathered a total of 65 000 signatures from citizens. Of which, nearly 25 000 have been certified. To move forward with their move, at least 25 000 more will need to be verified. Andri Silberschmidt of the Jungfreisinnige Schweiz, the Free Democratic party’s youth organisation, spoke to the Blick news outlet. He said that the Swiss Youth Parties are ‘confident that they will collect the necessary signatures’ by the cut-off date.
The new laws are not all bad, in fact, they will remove old taxes on winnings for sports betting and lotteries. Only winnings over CHF1 million will be taxed if the law moves ahead. More so, poker tournaments outside of land-based casinos will be made legal. Further, the new laws will help to protect players from ‘gambling-related risks.’
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