The fight against illegal gambling in Switzerland escalated this week as the country’s regulator went public with a list of illegal operators.
The Swiss Lottery and Betting Board (Comlot) has released details of its first ever ‘blacklist’ of overseas gambling sites. The release followed significant changes to the regulations governing online gambling. So far, more than 60 overseas sites have been made off limits to Swiss gamblers thanks to action by Comlot and authorities in the country.
In June 2019, voters opted for a significant overhaul of the country’s gambling regime, despite criticism from some groups that the changes amounted to government censorship. The new rules came into effect from the start of the new year, but Comlot had already started taking blocking action against illegal sites as early as August last year.
According to the new rules, customers in Switzerland are only permitted to use sites that pay tax in the country and that have demonstrated that they take sufficient measures to protect their players and target problem gambling while offering sufficient customer protection.
Companies that end up on the block list will be blocked automatically by service providers. Only sites that can be accessed from Switzerland will have their sites blocked. But the rules also allow for firms that pull out of the Switzerland market voluntarily to do so without being blocked.
Following the introduction of the new regulations, any Switzerland based gamblers who are owed money by overseas sites will have to seek their money back directly from the sites in questions. Swiss regulators say they will have no authority over foreign operators.
Some analysts estimate that as much as $252 million in annual wagers goes to overseas companies targeting the Swiss market, many of them based in Gibraltar or Malta.