Swiss federal gaming board names new president

Switzerland’s federal regulatory authority for gambling, the Eidgenössische Spielbankenkommission (ESBK) has named Fabio Abate as its new president, as Hermann Bürgi, who currently occupies the role, prepares to stand down at the end of December.

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Bürgi has worked for the ESBK since April 2012, heading the commission since February 2013. He has been a member of government for the canton of Thurgau and, during his tenure at ESBK, helped support the implementation of regulations to open the country’s igaming market.

ESBK’s Federal Council has elected Fabio Abate, an independent lawyer in Locarno, and former national councillor for the canton of Ticino, as his replacement.

Abate joined the ESBK earlier this year, and will assume the position of president on 1 January, 2021.

The regulator has remained active throughout 2020, adding dozens of websites to its illegal gambling blacklist in January, May, August and October.

The blacklist was first published in September 2019, in an effort between ESBK and the Inter-Cantonal Lotteries and Betting Commission (Comlot) to control unlicensed gambling in the nation.

This followed the implementation of igaming regulations in January 2019, which limited the market to offerings run by the country’s land-based casinos. Major operators such as bet365, Pinnacle, Betclic Everest and Sportsbet.io have therefore had domains blocked by Swiss internet service providers.

There are currently seven licensed domains operating in the country. In September this year, the Grand Casino Kursaal Bern launched its online casino website, 7melons.ch, under a single license granted to the land-based business in November last year.

This was followed closely by Casino du Lac, which became the latest land-based casino to launch an online offering, Pasino.ch, last week.

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