Swiss Online Gambling Referendum Likely Outcome Surveyed

Independent research commissioned by Swiss Broadcasting Corporation suggests new law will stand on June 10

Along with another national referendum on sovereign money, Swiss voters will decide on June 10 whether online gambling will be restricted to local licensed land casino operators.

InfoPowa readers may recall that late last year the national parliament passed legislation that replaces gambling laws passed in 1923 and 1998.

The legislation confirmed that online gambling is illegal in Switzerland, unless it is conducted in terms of a new and rather anti-competitive provision which allows in-country existing land casino operators to licence for online gambling.

The new law is backed by enforcement measures that include ISP-blocking of foreign operators who have been accessing the market, and this aspect drew the wrath of youth organisations of the Swiss People’s Party, the Free Democratic Party and the Green Liberal Party.

So strong was the opposition to “interference in the internet” that the activists were able to assemble over 50,000 petition signatures and force a referendum on the proposed legislation, which is scheduled for June 10 (see previous InfoPowa reports).

Fast forward to the present, and the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation commissioned GfS Bern research and polling institute to conduct an independent survey on likely outcomes of the referendum.

On the gambling question the situation thus far appears to be negative, with a telephone poll of 1,201 Swiss citizens from all language regions across the country revealing that supporters of the new proposed law have a 13 percent lead.

A further poll will be conducted nearer the vote, but Lukas Golder, co-director of the GfS Bern institute, has warned that there is considerable opposition within many of the main political parties as well as the business community which could impact the final result.

Nevertheless, Golder believes that the supporters of the legal amendment will keep the upper hand, relying on the support of sports and cultural groups, as well as cantonal authorities and beneficiaries of the state old age and disability insurance scheme.

These all receive contributions from the lotteries and licenced casinos and fear that opening up online gambling to foreign providers could deprive them of millions of francs in revenue.

Golder opines that the opponents of the new law have focused too tightly on the need for market competition and the internet interference argument, and as a consequence they may be losing majority public support.

Pollsters interviewed 1,201 Swiss citizens from all language regions across the country in the survey, which currently shows that 52 percent of respondents favour the new law vs. 39 opposing it.

Support for the law comes primarily from women, citizens in the French- and Italian-language regions, the older generation and people who generally trust the authorities.