The Swiss government has now been placed on course to hold a public referendum on new gambling laws introduced last year which legalise online gambling, providing it remains the exclusive preserve of existing Swiss land casino operators (see previous reports).
Civil society, internet service providers and internet freedom action groups are particularly concerned about enforcement provisions in the law which could require ISPs to block certain domains, claiming this constitutes unwarranted interference with the internet and freedom of use and communication.
Under Swiss law, petitions leading to a mandatory referendum on any new law must be accepted by government, providing there are at least 50,000 verified petitioners and the petition is lodged within 100 days of the passage of the law.
The organisers of a petition for such a referendum successfully met these requirements with a more than 60,000 signatures document in January, and government is currently completing the verification process leading to an opportunity for Swiss voters to make their feelings known.
The petition has triggered vigorous for and against arguments by various individuals and bodies, all closely followed by local media.