Swiss Youth Parties Collect Signatures to Overturn New Internet Gambling Law

The youth organizations of four Swiss parties have a little over a week to collect over 50,000 valid signatures and thus initiate a referendum against several provisions of the country’s recently approved Money Gaming Act (Geldspielgesetz).

The initiative is supported by the youth organizations of the Free Democratic Party, the Green Party, the Green Liberal Party, and the Swiss People’s Party. They launched their signature gathering initiative on October 10, 2017 and have up to January 18 to gather the necessary number of signatures from Swiss residents, in order to be able to put forward a referendum question.

The young politicians are opposing particular provisions in the country’s new gambling laws, hence their efforts to overturn these. Under the newly implemented Money Gaming Act, foreign online gambling operators are not allowed to operate in Switzerland. Only local operators with land-based presence are allowed to apply for a license from regulators and to provide iGaming services to local customers. It is important to note that Swiss online gaming companies without brick-and-mortar properties in Switzerland are too banned from providing their services to local players.

The new gambling law also requires Swiss Internet service providers to block access to foreign gambling websites in order to ensure that these are not able to target Swiss players. It is namely that provision in the new regulations that the youth organizations are contesting and trying to overturn.

The initiative has collected a total of 65,000 signatures since October, when it commenced, and 25,000 have already been certified. Talking to Swiss news outlet Blick, Andri Silberschmidt, President of Jungfreisinnige Schweiz, said that they are confident they will collect the necessary signatures by January 18. Jungfreisinnige Schweiz is known to be the youth party of Switzerland’s Free Democratic Party.

Young politicians have argued that the ISP block on international gambling websites violates regulations for the free movement of services. They have also expressed concerns that politicians could eventually adopt similar measures against the provision of other Internet services, including ones involving music and video streaming. Mr. Silberschmidt told Blick that Internet freedom and economic freedom have great support in Switzerland and this is why they are confident in the success of their initiative.

Other Provisions in Switzerland’s New Gambling Law

The new Money Gaming Act aims to update and replace the country’s existing gambling laws, which were created decades ago. Aside from banning international online gambling operators from servicing local players, the new regulatory framework also removes an older tax on winnings from lotteries and sports betting. Under the new law, only winnings exceeding CHF1 million are taxed.

The new regulations also allow for small poker tournaments to take place outside the country’s land-based casinos. The Money Gaming Act further includes policies that are hoped to protect customers from gambling-related risks more effectively.

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