While temperatures are rising, Switzerland’s self-elected gambling winter is around the corner.
As previously informed, the Federal Act on Gambling (Gambling Act) has come into force 1 January 2019. Good thing for some: The act allows Swiss casinos to offer online games while complying with specific conditions. Bad thing for many: The new Gambling Regulation also provides for the legal basis to technically block access to foreign online operators seeking to offer their services to the Swiss market.
The regulations on the implementation of such blocking measures will take effect on 1 July 2019. On this basis, the competent authorities consisting of the Swiss Federal Gaming Bank Commission (SFGB) and the Intercantonal Lottery and Competition Commission Comlot, are authorised to instruct internet service providers to block access to casino and betting sites that can be accessed from Switzerland that do not obtain a valid license compliant to the Gambling Act.
For this purpose, the authorities jointly establish a blacklist including all unauthorised online gaming operators. The blacklist is published in the Swiss Federal Gazette and will need to be enforced by the internet service operators. The first blacklist is currently expected to be issued in Q3 this year.
In early June , the Swiss authorities have initiated issuing seize and desist letters to online providers known to them. Thereby, the authorities point out that offering games without a licence in Switzerland (apart from administrative measures) is punishable by imprisonment of up to 5 years or a fine of up to CHF 500,000. In addition, the blocking of access to the respective websites was announced.
Online operators being blacklisted are not without legal protection: By claiming opposition, they can defend themselves against such a measure within 30 days (Art. 86 et seq. BGS). The chances to be successful in challenging the decision of the Swiss authorities will depend on the factual circumstances. If you may be affected by the new Money Gaming Act or by the measures taken by the Swiss gaming authorities, we shall be happy to provide guidance.