During a referendum in 2012, the Swiss opted for an amendment to the gambling law. This adjustment was approved by the Swiss Parliament at the end of 2017. They are now being implemented in the new gambling law, which regulates gambling in one law for all cantons.
But that implementation did not happen automatically after approval. A number of youth parties did not approve of the changes, actually the entire law. More than 60,000 signatures were collected by the Young Liberals, the Young Radical Liberals, the Young People's Party and a number of interest groups. Last summer, Sunday 10 June 2018, there was a new referendum.
The simple question was: YES to maintain the new law or NO, the new law must change. Just as with the Brexit, a simple answer to a complex subject. A subject with complex arguments, where many interests are at stake and with far-reaching consequences.
There were of course polls beforehand. For a long time, the number of proponents and opponents of the new gambling law went steadily up. But when the date of the referendum came closer, the number of JA voters rose sharply in the regular polls. Only on social media did the No voters hold a slight advantage. Thanks to debates on television, according to some MPs, older people understood the interests of Switzerland better than young people.
The new gambling law
Switzerland has 21 legal casinos. That is and remains the maximum in the new law. It is mainly international gambling organizations that operate these casinos. They get the exclusive right to start an online casino. Internet providers must block online gambling sites from abroad. Swiss who go to foreign gambling sites receive a message that they are doing something that is forbidden.
After the introduction of the new gambling law, the tax-free profit from gambling is increased. This then goes from around 850 euros to around 850,000 euros. The tax revenue from that gambling profit continues to benefit, among others, the AVS / AI * and the public utilities (culture, social sector and sport). The AVS / AI is expected to receive 255 million euros in 2019. The cantonal lottery funds receive more than 500 million euros from the gambling profit. The cantons thereby support volunteer projects. They may also issue permits for local gambling initiatives.
The government and the young liberals
The government naturally supports the law adopted last year. According to them, the law improves protection against gambling addiction, money laundering and manipulation by competing organizations. Gambling winnings are spent on society, with the exception of a few skill games and small, hardly profitable gambling initiatives. Moreover, the latter is fully checked and transparent.
The parties of young liberals do not think the law is up-to-date. The law stops free trade. And the limitation to 21 casinos and blockade of foreign online casinos is, according to them, a dubious form of censorship. Moreover, Switzerland would be in isolation with it; it closes itself off with initiatives from innovative IT and gambling companies.
The turnout at the referendum was 34% lower than in many other Swiss referendums. In the end, 1,326,000 Swiss voters voted for the new law. Almost 500,000 voted NO. The new law was approved with 72.9% of the votes in favor.
The law had already been passed by parliament. The conditions are therefore in principle already applicable. Nonetheless, some consultations will take place in parliament following the referendum. The new gambling law will then probably be in force early in 2019.
Casinos in Switzerland
Switzerland has 21 casinos, which can now also start online gambling sites. There are two types of permits. The casinos with a B concession may have three types of gaming tables (eg roulette, blackjack and poker) and a maximum of 250 slots. They must also adhere to betting and winning limits. With this permit they are allowed to connect slots with each other, but only indoors.
With an A concession, a casino can place an unlimited number of slots and slots. The cupboards may be linked, also with cupboards in another casino, and the stake is unlimited.
The tax revenue from casinos with an A license goes entirely to the AVS. With a B license, 60% goes to the AVS and 40% to the canton in which the casino is located.
* AVS / AI = L’assurance-vieillesse et survivants / L’assurance-invaliditéde, or insurance for old age, dependents / and disabled.