The Justice Ministry in Switzerland has been tasked with drafting a proposal with the objective of licensing and regulating a small number of Internet gambling operations, reports Swissinfo this week. The proposal will be eventually be laid before Parliament, and will presumably also form part of a public consultation process.
The liberalisation is part of a drive to more closely regulate betting in order to combat illegal gambling in the country, and tough restrictions on non licensed operations will be part of the overall plan.
Initial indications are emerging that gambling over the telephone or via interactive television will not be included in the legalisation process.
Experts say the new forms of licensed gambling could generate tax revenue of up to an estimated SFr26 million ($22 million) annually.
Gambling generally in Switzerland, home to some of the most sophisticated financial services in the world, underwent major changes almost exactly eight years ago when legislators approved laws allowing land casino gambling to include unlimited stakes for the first time. Strictly controlled by a federal agency, casinos are required to pay strict attention to financial, underage and problem gambling issues. Operations are also required to employ fully trained staff, who are evaluated by an independent advisory board.
Online gambling regulations are expected to be equally strict and closely monitored.