While it’s officially legal for residents in Switzerland to place sports bets or play casino games of chance for real cash online through licensed online gambling sites, the government has been fairly lax about enforcing any laws pertaining to foreign interests. On July 1 of this year, that officially changed.
In January of this year, Switzerland’s government passed the Money Gaming Act (MGA) 2019. The new law falls under the direction of the Swiss Federal Gaming Board (SFGB). Since the beginning of the year, online gambling operators from all over the world have been clamoring for licensing to provide online gambling services in a country that generates an estimated 250 million Swiss francs annually from unregulated sites. That includes online casinos that are offering great bonuses a Eurogrand bonus or bonuses from name brand providers
After issuing warnings to foreign-based operators, the SFGB has finally started blacklisting online casino operators that are still illegally providing gambling services to URL addresses in Switzerland. Clearly, the decision to enforce regulations is being directed to protect the interests of the online gambling operators that are licensed to provide legal online gambling services.
Of course, the SFGB is also working to protect the interests of the federal government. With foreign operators being able to avoid taxation and drawing revenues away from the operators that are licensed and required to pay taxes, that creates a significant draw on the government’s projected tax revenue stream. That’s clearly not a tenable situation.
There’s another relevant angle at play here. While foreign online gambling operators have had free access in prior years, the Swiss government claims such activities have created a significant problem gambling problem for the nation.
According to estimates, there are approximately 75,000 problem gamblers residing in what is otherwise a small country. In line with that number, the government is further claiming that problem gambling issues are costing society more than 500 million Swiss francs annually in treatment costs and collateral damage. While that number might be difficult to substantiate, any amount should be considered unacceptable. The government’s plan is to carve out a portion of the tax revenues from licensed online gambling providers and allocate those funds to help fund anti-addiction measures and potentially set up government sponsored treatment centers.
Other Countries to Follow Suit?
With a large number of countries ready to move forward and legalize online gambling for its resident, the online gambling can expect similar issues in other countries. It’s going to put a lot of pressure on online gambling interests to make sure they have proper licensing in each country. The costs associated with that might seem prohibitive, but there should be plenty of offset from growing revenues.
Every country has the right to protect its own tax revenue streams. With the online gambling industry growing by double-digit percentages year-over-year into the foreseeable future, there should be enough of the online gambling pie for everyone in the industry to operate legally in each jurisdiction.
For now, countries like Switzerland are making a very clear statement. Stay away from our residents unless your online casino is willing to come in and do things the right way.