The Swiss Confederation, better known as Switzerland, is one of the most developed countries in the world. It belongs to the world’s top countries in terms of government transparency, civil liberties, economic competitiveness, quality of life, and human development. However, Switzerland has recently been facing a serious social problem – gambling.
Namely, according to Addiction Switzerland, there are around 75,000 registered gambling addicts at the moment and the number is steadily growing. Having in mind the total population of Switzerland, this is a big problem since it means that approximately 1% of the population is addicted to gambling.
At first glance, 1% may not seem much, especially compared with countries where gambling is much more widespread, but this is a misconception because not all people who engage in gambling are necessarily addicted. Let’s make it clearer. If a country has 100 cities, 1% would mean that all people who live in one city, no matter if they are children, men or women, are addicted to gambling. In addition, we should take it into consideration that 69 studies on adult gambling prevalence that have been conducted in Europe explicitly say that the lowest gambling addiction rate is 0.12%, and the highest is 3.4%. Considering Switzerland’s level of development and progress, the fact that the percentage of gambling addicts is around 1 is quite alarming.
Over the years, Switzerland has tried to battle this problem in different ways, one of them being the establishment of some of the best addiction treatment facilities in the world. However, not even high-tech facilities, newest research, adequate environment could reduce this growing problem much.
Another measure has been the attempt to nip the problem in the bud. When it was discovered that Swiss people mostly gamble online, the Swiss government decided to curb online gambling by issuing a new gambling law. According to the new Gambling Act, only those casinos and gaming companies that are certified in Switzerland are allowed to offer online gambling. On the other hand, foreign-based companies are not allowed to provide online gambling services in Switzerland.
In the referendum held on June 10, overwhelming 72% of Swiss voters supported the new Gambling Act. When it takes effect in 2019, it will be one of the strictest gambling laws in Europe.
However, also in June, the Swiss Parliament voted in favor of another law regulating gambling entitled “Re-regulation of the Gambling Market”. This law allows international remote gambling operators to apply for license, which basically enables foreign betting sites to operate in Switzerland again. This law is due to take effect in January 2019.
In conclusion, it cannot be denied that the Swiss government has gone to great lengths to deal with one of the biggest social problems in the country at the moment. It is yet to be seen whether the newly adopted laws will have the desired effects, or the government will have to come up with other solutions that will solve the problem of gambling addiction.