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Swiss voters approve reform of gambling law

Restrictive gambling law goes through

Voters in Switzerland have given their seal of approval to a newly proposed gambling law to block international online gambling operators. Under the law, offshore casinos will be barred from providing their online gambling service in Switzerland.

The law which received 73% votes in its favour also proposes measures that can be taken to counter addiction.

“Voters prefer to continue the current policy, only allowing gambling under restrictions,” Justice Minister Simonetta Sommaruga told a news conference.

The minister denied concerns that the new law would set a precedent for internet censorship.

Approval of the law is a “pragmatic decision by Swiss voters who want to continue funding civil society projects with revenue of the casinos and lotteries,” according to Karl Vogler. The Christian Democrats led a parliamentary committee campaigning in favour of the law.

Opponents, who argued that the law was restrictive and would lead to censorship, said it was difficult to appeal to a broad public with an issue as specific as gambling. There were also concerns that the Swiss casino industry would gain an unfair advantage if offshore competition was taken out of the running.

“We may have lost this battle, but put the issue of blocked internet sites on the political agenda,” Radical Party parliamentarian Marcel Dobler told public radio SRF.

The government dismissed these allegations, saying at least 17 other European countries resorted to blocking websites of unlicensed gambling providers.

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