The Swiss Lottery and Betting Board (Comlot) officially blocked 88 domains run by foreign online gaming operators during 2019, according to its annual report, published on Monday.

Last year was the first in which blocks on foreign operators had been implemented following a change in the law. In June 2018 a majority of Swiss voters approved the reform of the country’s gambling law despite protests by opponents who warned of government censorship. The law came into effect in January last year, although enforcement action against foreign sites didn’t start until August.

Swiss gamblers are able to bet online only with Swiss casinos and with lotteries that pay tax in Switzerland. Registered sites also have to demonstrate that they take sufficient measures to protect people from gambling addiction. Other sites are automatically blocked by all Swiss telecommunications service providers through domain name server blocks.

The report from Comlot shows that the law had already started to have an effect before it came into force. A number of major players in the international sports betting market had made contact with the board at an early stage and had withdrawn from the Swiss market. But according to Comlot, some providers had tried to mitigate the effects of the access block by repeatedly adding new domains.

Comlot pointed out that this demonstrated the determination of foreign gambling operators to break the rules. They also said that it indicated the technical blocking measure was effective.

In its report Comlot also published gambling statistics for 2019. These showed that automated and online lotteries, along with sports betting had generated a turnover of $3.17 billion during the year. Around 83% of this figure was accounted for by the lotteries, mostly the EuroMillions and Swiss Lotto. Each of Switzerland’s 8.6 million residents gambled an average of $370 last year, while per capita winnings came to $248, which means each person lost $122 on average.

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