The Swiss Gaming Act that legalizes online gambling in Switzerland will come into effect from 1 January, 2019.
Switzerland’s Federal Council has confirmed the new law that will regulate the licensed online gambling space, outlaw foreign operators and ban unlicensed sites not later than July 2019, was approved by the public on referendum in the summer.
Swiss voters had backed the new law with 72.9% of voters casting the vote in favour of the new Gambling Act.
Both houses of Parliament have already passed the legislation and the act will be one of the strictest in Europe. It will allow only Swiss-certified casinos and gaming firms to operate while the government explained the law was designed to tackle gambling addiction.
The law will also block all foreign betting sites in the country, something opponents say amounts to “censorship of the internet”. Various political wings objecting the Act have tried to overturn it and even gathered 50,000 signatures but they ultimately failed.
The government insists on strict rules and it would even fund anti-gambling measures from tax gambling revenue and direct revenues. Gamblers in the country spend roughly CHF250 million ($253 million) per year on unregulated foreign betting sites and the government is eager to stop that and protect the players.
The Federal Council has opened a licensing window in July and all interested operators can apply for the extension of their existing licenses to cover online gaming until the end of this year.
All applications will be carefully considered during the first half of next year and first licenses will be issued to operators just before 1 July when blocking measures come into effect. All the licensees would be able to offer new services including poker and roulette but there will be strict measurements on setting maximum sums for poker tournaments, small lotteries and raffles.
Maximum prizes for small lotteries and raffles have been doubled following the criticism original sums were too low. The maximum raffle prize was raised to CHF 50,000 and regional draw-based games to CHF 500,000.
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