Switzerland’s internet service providers want Swiss land-based casinos to bear the costs of blocking the domains of international online gambling operators.
The Swiss government is mulling changes to its gambling legislation, including allowing Swiss casinos to offer online versions of their slots and table games. But the proposed regime won’t take effect until 2019, and money-losing Swiss casinos have pressed for international sites to be blocked from accessing the Swiss market in the interim.
Last month, the umbrella group ICT (Information & Communication Technology) Switzerland went public with its concerns over the IP-blocking plans, pointing out that similar IP-blocking schemes have been employed in other countries but have proven “practically useless” in achieving their stated aims.
Jean-Marc Hensch, managing director of ICT trade group Swico, warned that “if Switzerland is to remain innovative and competitive, we cannot cut ourselves off from international competition and let the digitization of the economy pass us by.”
This week, Swiss media outlet Neue Zürcher Zeitung reported that telecom trade group Suisse Digital had upped the ante by proposing that, if the government was determined to proceed with its IP-blocking plans, Swiss gaming operators should be required to pay the extra costs incurred by the ISPs. Suisse Digital also suggests that ISPs be given the authority to temporarily suspend the blocking if it impairs the quality of their overall networks.
More to the point, Suisse Digital warned that if the Swiss gaming industry can convince the government to take these types of protectionist actions, other industries will be sure to follow and this “flood of requests” will soon have Switzerland’s online content as full of holes as its iconic national cheese product.
Beat Flach, a Green Party member of Switzerland’s National Council, has promised to introduce rival legislation that would allow international online operators to apply for Swiss licenses. That way, consumers would have greater choice, the government could generate more revenue and censorship would take a well-deserved boot to the nuts.