Voters in Liechtenstein have overwhelmingly rejected a referendum on the ballot to ban all land casinos in the microstate. Over 70 percent of voters rejected the proposal in weekend balloting.
The principality has 40,000 denizens and six casinos. Casinos were legalized and began operations about five years ago. Most of the footfall comes from neighboring countries like Austria and Switzerland as well as from Germany. Liechtenstein is ranked as the wealthiest country in the world with an annual per-capita income of $175,813.
The signatures needed for the referendum as well as the wording were brought about by IG Volksmeinung, a pressure group formed to oppose casinos in Liechtenstein.
Reasoning in favor of the ban included perceived damage to the country’s reputation, and the fear of gambling addiction, especially among the less wealthy residents. Those arguments were rejected decisively with about 73% rejecting the ban, and about 27% supporting it. Voter turnout was about 70%.
The certified numbers were 10,383 in opposition to the ban (73,3%) and 3,779 in favor (26.7%).
Government Opposed Referendum
The government as well as the country’s prince opposed the referendum and spoke out against it, encouraging the populace to vote “no” on the ban. Had the measure passed, the six existing casinos would have had five years to wind up operations.
Arguments against the casino ban included an assessment that it was too drastic and didn’t actually address gambling harm. It was also noted that casinos have become an important source of revenue. Actual damage to the country’s reputation is stable and reliable could also be seen to occur if the industry was exiled.
In early November last year, the IG VolksMeinung attempted to get Lantag to ban the casinos. Principality law requires that the government had 14 days to call a referendum under the People’s Rights Act and the referendum had to be presented to voters within three months.
The constitutional amendment was rejected on Sunday, January 29, 2023.
Late last year, as reported on G3 Newswire, the Liechtenstein Casino Association is well aware that the market may not be well served by so many casinos. A statement read: “The casino association understands such concerns and sees no economic basis for so many casinos in the future. Both the government’s moratorium and the measures already taken prevent further growth and accelerate the consolidation of the market situation. For these reasons, a ban on casinos is not necessary. Well-known experts do not see a solution in a ban. Experts call for active player protection that quickly identifies problematic gambling behavior and shows the guest solutions.”
The statement continued: “Due to the legal requirements, the casinos spend very high amounts and human resources on prevention work every year. Employees are trained, problematic players are addressed and, where necessary, excluded from the game. All this no longer exists with a ban.”
Source: Liechtenstein votes resoundingly against banning casinos, Reuters, January 29, 2023