But only if licenses are restricted to existing land operators
Swiss cantons (provinces) represented by the Conference of the Cantonal Directors in Charge of Gambling and Lotteries (CDCM) have come out in support of regulated online gambling in the European nation, but only under certain conditions.
In a recent media statement, the CDCM advised that whilst there was agreement on the issue, a key condition must be that only Swiss land casino operators be eligible for a licence, effectively excluding international online operators from entering the market.
The CDCM statement asserts: "We support the idea of extending the current [land gambling] licence. The online environment is not a new market; it is only a new medium to distribute the offer already available, it addresses the same clients and it meets the same needs of the traditional games."
However, the statement adds: "The arrival of new operators specialised in the online sector would lead to a competition that would be problematic from a political, social and possibly even economic point of view. We believe that those who hold a licence to offer brick-and-mortar casino games should not be 'punished' for the fact that they have respected the rules that currently forbid them to run operations online."
The bottom line appears to be that online gambling is OK if kept within the Swiss national gambling family, but would be dangerously competitive if opened to international operators with more know-how and experience.
That's not necessarily the best solution from a player perspective; competition in the market generally results in better offers for the players.
The good news is that in the draft bill introduced earlier this year by the federal government there are no plans to tax the winnings of players. There are also provisions that will permit the operation of small poker tourneys and home-based games (see previous InfoPowa reports).
The regulators may be happy with the new bill, but the Swiss Casino Federation, a trade association for Switzerland's 21 land casino owners, has voiced concerns and asked for government assurances on several important points.
Proposals from some quarters that taxes be levied on internet gambling operators (who will all be land casino operators) in order to fund problem gambling efforts will be opposed, with land operators voicing the opinion that such additional taxes would be unfair and unhelpful.
The SCF wants online casino games to be clearly defined by law to ensure a competitive offering, and whilst it accepts that licensing will be exclusive to existing Swiss land casino operators, it wants assurances that vigorous and effective enforcement initiatives will be deployed to keep foreign online gambling operators from accessing Swiss internet punters.
Online Casino News Courtesy of Infopowa