Switzerland passes Money Gaming Act, legalizing online casinos and betting

  • Ending a process that began in 2014, the Swiss government has passed the Money Gaming Act, legalizing online gambling
  • The legislation sets out that only local operators with land-based facilities may operate online casino sites

After nearly three years of discussion and debate on the matter, Switzerland’s Money Gaming Act, or the Geldspielgesetz, has finally been submitted, debated, and passed. It means that the country has effectively legalized online casinos and gambling.

swiss gambling legislation
Switzerland has passed the Money Gaming Act, legalizing online gambling

The bill rolls both land-based casino– and online gambling-related laws into one piece of legislation, and will replace previous laws from 1923 and 1998 – considered by many to be out of date in recent years.

Previous laws did not specifically instruct the industry on whether or not global operators could market their products and services to Swiss players – and so they often did.

More specific rules and regulations

The finalized Money Gaming Act will be more specific in its rules and regulations, dictating that online wagering will be made legal in the country, but that only operators with a Swiss land-based presence will be allowed to run such websites.

With these stringent new rules comes the subsequent blocking of international casino operators attempting to run betting websites. Any attempt to even do so will be blacklisted.

Under the new Money Gaming Act, it will be the responsibility of the Internet service providers to adequately do so. Switzerland’s government will compensate any costs incurred.

It is also thought, however, that international firms teaming up with Swiss operators will be allowed to target the country’s local audience.

Other new laws

Other changes brought by the new legislation include the fact that only winnings – from lotteries and sports betting – totalling CHF1 million and above will be taxed, and that cash prizes from land-based casinos won’t be taxed at all.

Also, it has been reported that there may be a relaxing of rules around private poker contents, with smaller-scale events considered as legal and permitted to take place outside of traditional casino confines. There will also be a move to put taxes gained from casinos toward more charitable causes in the country.

Firm opposition

Although the new laws seem to lay to rest a very long-running dispute, not all of Switzerland’s citizens are as thrilled about the Money Gaming Act.

A number of groups – including the Free Democratic Party, the Green Liberal Party, and certain factions in the Swiss People’s Party – are alleged to stand against the Act, claiming that its regulation on blocking international gambling websites is against the freedom of movement and access thought to be inherent to the internet.

It has been reported that these groups are seeking a referendum on this matter, attempting to gain the required more than 50,000 signatures to be successful.

If these attempts to overturn the Money Gaming Act are unsuccessful, the earliest possible date for its enactment will be during 2019.

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