Chances of Switzerland legalizing and regulating the game of online poker are rather high. Proposals have been drafted for a law that would soon reverse the previous ban on gambling and legalize online poker. If everything goes as planned, a licensing agreement will soon be drawn up, greatly benefiting the 21 brick-and-mortar casinos dotted all over the country.
The draft bill embraces all types of online gambling. According to current Swiss laws, online gambling is completely prohibited. If Switzerland creates a new online gambling regulatory body, offshore as well as domestic gambling firms will be able to apply for a license to operate online gambling businesses in Switzerland. The bill also seeks to legalize private as well as home poker games.
In 2010, Switzerland had banned poker tournaments held in private outside casino premises after one of its courts declared Texas Hold’em to be a chance-based game. Switzerland is making its first moves towards legalizing online gambling because it is unhappy about the fact that it is losing on a lot of gambling revenue.
The country has tax laws that are very favorable to offshore operators. The new bill proposes that no taxes should be imposed on money won through gambling activities. At present, casinos, sportsbooks, and lotteries are required to pay taxes. According to the bill, part of the taxes will be diverted to social projects and charitable purposes.
Existing brick-and-mortar casinos in Switzerland are suffering because of the blanket ban imposed on online gambling. Marketing and advertising online gambling products and services are also prohibited in Switzerland. It is also illegal to process gambling-related payments and operate servers within the borders of Switzerland.
In 2013, a new law was drafted by the Swiss Federal Council to relax the laws, but this draft limited the number of licenses that could be granted.
Strangely, the Swiss Casino Association is against the new draft. The association’s representatives say that operators of non-land casinos ought not to be granted licenses.
It cannot be said this early if Switzerland will create laws requiring online gambling operators to sign partnership deals with existing land casino operators to launch online gambling services in the country. Since Switzerland has not implemented any IP-blocking measures, major offshore online gambling operators already accept Swiss gamblers. But it is definite that Switzerland won’t ring-fence its player pool because it knows that countries that have ring-fenced their players are not doing that well.