Switzerland: 45 additional gambling sites blocked

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Switzerland: 45 additional gambling sites blocked

It continues: Switzerland has again blocked websites. A total of 45 other online gambling operators are affected. This time 33 additional pages were added to the black list of the Swiss Federal Gaming Board (ESBK) and the intercantonal lottery and betting commission (Comlot) did not consider 12 pages to be trustworthy. This means that these 45 providers are in “good company”, as giants in the industry such as Interwetten, Bet365 or bet-at-home were also blocked beforehand. The basis for these blocks is the first paragraph of Article 86 in the Swiss Gaming Act. It reads: “Access to online games must be blocked if the games on offer in Switzerland are not approved”.

New names on the blacklist since August

Online gambling offers that are not permitted in Switzerland have been put through their paces by the federal authorities since July 2019 when the Swiss Gaming Act came into force. So-called blacklists have existed since September last year, which contain the names of foreign websites that have the status of “illegal” in Switzerland. At the beginning there were already around 100 entries in these lists, which are now regularly updated. In January this year it hit a total of 35 additional websites, and in March they were expanded by another 40. Just four months ago, 61 new websites were added to the blacklists, and now 45 more are to follow, the blocks of which must be implemented by the Swiss telecommunications service providers. At the end of August this year, some online casinos that have received a license from Malta were also entered on the ESBK’s blacklist. These include duxcasino.com, amunra.com and slotwolf.com. With bitcasino.io, an online casino licensed in Curacao is also included. The Comlot blacklist includes forzza45.com, vulkanbet.com, 22bet8.co and meridianbet.com again.

New gambling law thanks to referendum

In a referendum in March 2012, the Confederates voted for a revision of the gaming laws. The new Swiss Gambling Act was presented for the first time in April 2014. The final version replaced its predecessor in July 2019 – a law that had been in force more or less unchanged since 1923. This allowed the operation of gambling and gambling websites exclusively lotteries that were approved in the individual Swiss cantons.

With the new gaming law everything suddenly changed. Online casinos that had not received approval in Switzerland were unceremoniously blocked. In the beginning the authorities were struggling with considerable technical difficulties, but after a few months they had them under control. Those responsible gave the buck to the implementation. “At the beginning, some telecommunications service providers actually encountered technical difficulties,” said Marjorie Perusset, the communications officer of the Swiss Federal Gaming Board, and emphasized that the ESBK had no information about further problems. Rather, she pointed out that they received a lot of reactions from players: “Mostly from those who had no knowledge of the change in the law or did not know that the game they were using was not allowed”.

The rerouting to the “stop page”, which was set up by the ESKB, caused problems for the longest. It was not continuously stable over a long period of time. There, the players are informed that there is no license for the gaming offers of the online casino they have called up in Switzerland. Literally it says: “There is no guarantee for a safe, transparent and socially responsible game handling”. For this reason, access to the corresponding website is also blocked. At the same time, the legal offers approved by the inter-cantonal lottery and betting commission and the federal casino commission are advertised.

Critics warned early on

Resistance to the grid locks arose very early in parliament. “Young bourgeois parties subsequently held a referendum against the bill,” wrote the Tagesanzeiger, for example. Incidentally, the referendum committee received financial support from foreign providers. Nevertheless, in June 2018 the new Gaming Act received a total of almost 73% yes-votes from the federal voters. At the time, the opposing camp warned in vain of a precedent: “Once network blocks against online gaming offerings are in place, the door will be opened to further restrictions on the Internet.” There was also criticism from traditional Swiss casinos. They complained about the harsh licensing conditions and that it was extremely difficult to integrate new games into the current regulations. Those responsible are very unimpressed by such statements. You have completely different worries. U.a. gives them the headache of how it can be prevented that the introduced network blocks can be bypassed so relatively easily. The University of Bern has published a study on this which shows that up to 250 million Swiss francs flow abroad for online gambling.

Online poker at an advantage

Even before the new Swiss Gambling Act came into force, a number of international online casinos had withdrawn from the Swiss market. This was done on the advice of the Swiss authorities and pursued the goal of maintaining an option that would enable future cooperation with Swiss casinos that hold a license for online gambling. Serious casino providers particularly benefit from online poker. The Swiss Gaming Act stipulates that, subject to certain conditions, Swiss casinos may offer poker games on foreign platforms.

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