Switzerland votes to block international operators

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In a referendum that has divided the old from the young, Switzerland voted overwhelmingly in favour of a regulated market for online gaming, but one that blocks out international players.

The new Gambling Act, which will be one of the strictest regimes in Europe, won 72.9 percent of votes in June, despite mounting criticisms that its contents act a lot like internet censorship.

The government claims the package is indispensable to its fight against gambling addiction and effectively channeling and taxing play. Roughly £200m is thought to be spent by the Swiss on unregulated sites each year.

The new provisions will let Swiss companies operate gaming with online licences for the first time, but in blocking out the international industry it has attracted a staunch opposition amongst the young. Campaign groups led by youth wings of major parties collected 50,000 signature to force the referendum.

Luzian Franzini, co-president of the Greens’ youth group, said the new laws set “a very dangerous precedent”.

“They may not really have understood what this could do to the internet,” he said.

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