Switzerland’s new online gambling laws to require licenses in 2019.
Switzerland has long been known for its neutral position among leading nations. Come January 1, 2019, that stance will no longer apply to online casino games. A few months ago, the Swiss government adopted new internet gambling regulations. Implementation of the Swiss Gambling Act will occur just under 5 weeks from now.
When the regulations go into effect, operators of online casinos, poker rooms, lotteries and raffles will need to apply for a license to legally operate in (and accept player from) Switzerland. To receive a license, they’ll need to have a local presence in the country.
New Online Gambling Laws – January 1, 2019
As of January 1, 2019, online gambling will become a legal activity in Switzerland; under the right circumstances, of course. From that day forward, all operators with a local presence and regulatory license to accept Swiss players will be operating in accordance with the law.
Conversely, any international operator that continues to accept Swiss players without a license will be in direct violation of the law. However, no one will be getting in trouble just yet. Foreign operators are being given 6 months to resolve any violations and acquire a license before action is taken.
License Requirements Take Effect July 1, 2019
International operators can continue to accept players in Switzerland from now until July 1, 2019, so long as they are taking steps to obtain a license. To do this, they’ll need to set up a Swiss office, or solidify partnership with a local business. Then they’ll be welcome to apply for a license to operate in the Swiss online gambling market.
Switzerland’s Federal Council is in charge of reviewing all license applications. Licenses will be available for online casino and online poker room operations, as well as operators of online lotteries and raffles. At that time, local operators who already carry a license will be able to expand their existing services to encompass other eligible forms, if they wish.
Operators who successfully pass the review phase will receive a Swiss iGaming license on July 1, 2019. Those who do not pass, and do not receive a license, will be forced to cease operating in the Swiss market immediately.
Condensing the reality of the situation, online gambling becomes legal in Switzerland in January 2019. Failure to act in accordance with the new online gambling laws becomes illegal in July 2019.
Following in the Regulatory Footsteps of Past Success
Switzerland’s approach to legal online gambling is nothing new. Several major jurisdictions have undertaken similar action. The US State of New Jersey applies the same laws, where operators must have a local presence and license. Australia also requires local presence, restricting services to online sports betting (no online casinos or poker). In the UK, both local and foreign operators are welcome to apply for a license, and can offer just about any gambling vertical, so long as they exhibit best practices.
The Swiss government is essentially combining proven regulatory tactics. The goal seems to be taking the route that generates the most revenue, with the lowest risk assessment. Ultimately, Switzerland is hoping to recapture the estimated CHF-250 million (€220.1mm, or CA-$332.8mm) lost to foreign, unlicensed operators each year.
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