Liechtenstein voters oppose proposed casino ban
A majority of Liechtenstein voters have rejected a proposed ban on casino activities in the country. In the referendum held on Sunday, the public opted to preserve the country’s known status as the “Las Vegas of the Alps.”
The microstate, which is a tenth the size of London, has six casinos across the country. If the casino ban proposed by anti-gambling groups, led by IG VolksMeinung, had succeeded, the European country’s gambling venues would have been shut down within the next five years.
Liechtenstein’s monarch and government disapproved of the ban, stating that the country benefited from the tax revenue — around $54 million per annum — generated by the activity. The opposing party argued that gambling led to issues like addiction and had the potential to ruin the country’s newly improved reputation globally.
Those arguments were seemingly swept aside during the nationwide referendum. Out of the 14,383 residents of legal age in Liechtenstein, 10,383 participated in the referendum — approximately 70% of the adult population.
Over 73% of the voters from that group were not in support of the casino ban and labelled IG VolksMeinung the offending party for trying to force the ban. Some 27% of the voters, however, supported the group’s actions. Per the vote results, Liechtenstein will continue to be the ‘Las Vegas of the Alps’.
While there was a significant gap between the supporters and the opposition, some areas in Liechtenstein recorded more positive feedback for the ban than others. One is Balzers, located eight minutes south of Casino Admiral Triesen. Around 32% of the respondents in the village supported the ban.
Balzers had the highest support for the gambling ban; however, Schaan came in a close second with over 30%. The Place Casino Liechtenstein is located in Schaan.
IG Volksmeinung, which facilitated the referendum as well as the signatures required to trigger it, was created to oppose the “casino flood”. According to the group, the casino industry could damage the national image that Liechtenstein put in so much effort to repair.
Over a decade ago, the European country was placed on an international blacklist of tax havens. Liechtenstein managed to get off the list after easing its bank secrecy laws in 2013 and joining an international forum to corporate with foreign tax authorities.
IG Volksmeinung also claimed that the country had too many casinos and, as a result, an increasing issue with problem gambling. The anti-gambling lobby said it did not want Liechtenstein to turn into “a casino and poker hotspot in the middle of Europe”.