The Swiss parliament pushed through a vote that required internet service providers (ISPs) to block access to illegal gambling websites. International online gambling operators will be blocked from offering their serviced to nationals within the country.
Previously, the upper house accepted the proposal and now the lower section of the House of Representatives gave the green light to proceed further.
The question of domain-blocking did not pass without controversy reactions. The Greens and Swiss People’s Party opposed the plans. Franz Grütter, a member of the party, was speaking out against the proposal, saying that the move is “what dictatorships do”.
“Blocking isn’t in step with the liberal, democratic way of thinking” Grütter added.
Initially, the ones behind the website-blocking plan were the casino operators, who have complained about their declining revenues due to the competition from international gambling operators. ISPs were clear they understood who is the beneficiary of the blocking and offered for Swiss casinos to cover the costs that ISPs will incur while proceeding with domain blocking.
Further, ISPs were arguing that such decision in other countries did not stop local gamblers from exploring their international options. Thierry Burkart from the centre-right Radical Party claimed otherwise, saying that “blocking websites works – experience abroad demonstrates that.”
The second important decision taken was the lower house confirming that only casinos based in Switzerland will be eligible for a new Swiss online gambling license.
However, even though many important parts of the matter are already decided, legislators are still not sure whether or not to tax gambling winnings, and if so, by how much. The debate on that is scheduled to continue on March 15.