On the heels of the Italian government sanctioning and licensing online poker, there are indications that Switzerland might be considering a step in the same direction. Pressure from the Swiss Gaming Board hopes to influence the Swiss Federal Council to lift the online gaming ban to test the waters.
Benno Schneider, president of the Swiss Gaming Board, has spoken out on the issues and granted an interview to a Swiss newspaper in the hopes of raising awareness about the positives that could come from lifting the ban. His idea would suspend the prohibition in order to conduct a test regarding its feasibility as a revenue-generating system and licensed program within Switzerland. While he admits that the cost involved would be “substantial,” the eventual revenue would outweigh the cost, and the benefits of monitoring for money-laundering and consumer addiction would be helpful to the citizens.
“We should investigate whether Switzerland can grant concessions for internet casinos to national providers, under strict regulations, and if foreign providers can be prohibited from offering online casino services,” Schneider states. “The advantage of this solution would be that the quality of providers can be monitored. In addition, revenues generated from Swiss online gaming could be taxed.”
Under Schneider’s proposal, online gaming sites would have to meet strict standards when requesting a license, the same standards currently applied to Switzerland’s land-based casinos. And to further regulate the industry, all action on the sites would be restricted to Swiss-licensed sites and Swiss residents.
The Swiss Gaming Board is in the process of finalizing its report to send to the Swiss Federal Council promptly, as they hope to see the online gaming ban lifted by the end of 2009.
While Switzerland seems to be making progress toward the realization of the benefits of legalizing and regulating online gaming, the United States continues to be one of the countries furthest from considering such an act. The U.S., which promotes itself as a beacon of freedom and liberty throughout the world, is in the process of attempting to enforce the UIGEA to further cripple the rights of privacy and personal responsibility, as other countries consider how to best embrace the industry and use it to their benefit.
Quite possibly, if Switzerland chooses to conduct this experiment with online gaming, those trying to promote the same activities in the United States could take some notes from that playbook.
*If you are a US Citizen, defend your right to play. Make your voice heard! Visit the PokerPlayersAlliance to find your local representative and links to contact your state representatives to tell them how you feel about your right to play online poker. Don't sleep through this very important issue - do it now!*