Swiss block 88 foreign online gaming sites

Swiss gamblers can bet online only with Swiss casinos Keystone / Julie Jacobson

The Swiss Lottery and Betting Board (Comlot) blocked 88 domains belonging to foreign online gaming operators in 2019, the first year that such blocks were implemented following a change in the law.

This content was published on June 29, 2020 - 15:27

In June 2018 three-quarters of Swiss voters approved the overhaul of the country’s gambling law despite claims by opponents of government censorship. The law came into effect in January 2019, but the blocking of foreign gambling websites didn’t start until August.

Swiss gamblers can bet online, for example at poker or roulette, only with Swiss casinos and lotteries that pay tax in Switzerland and take measures to protect people from addiction. Other sites are automatically obstructed by Swiss telecommunications service providers via DNS (domain name server) blocks.

The law had already had an effect before it came into force, Comlot said in its annual report, published on Monday. Several “major players in the international sports betting market” had contacted the board early on and withdrawn from the Swiss market, it said.

Nevertheless, some providers had tried to reduce the effects of the access block by constantly adding new domains, it added. “This proves that certain foreign providers are prepared to break the law in order to maximise profits.”

Comlot pointed out that this behaviour also showed that the technical blocking measure was effective.

Three billion turnover

For the first time, the betting board published gambling statistics for 2019, revealing that inter-cantonal, automated or online lotteries and sports betting had generated a turnover of CHF3 billion ($3.17 billion) and a profit of CHF999 million.

Some 83% of this was accounted for by the lotteries – primarily EuroMillions and Swiss Lotto. The net profits of the lottery companies amounted to CHF630 million, which goes to the cantons and supports charitable projects.

Each of Switzerland’s 8.6 million inhabitants gambled an average of CHF351 last year. Per capita winnings came to CHF235, meaning each person lost an average of CHF116.

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