Voters in Liechtenstein have overwhelmingly rejected a proposed ban on casinos in a referendum on Sunday (January 29), according to election data published by the government.
Election officials reported 73.3 percent, or 10,383 voters, were against the proposed ban, while 26.7 percent, or 3,779 voters, supported the constitutional referendum.
It is estimated that there are just over 39,000 people living in Liechtenstein, according to the World Bank.
However, its GDP per capita is $180,000, making its people the richest individuals in the world by some metrics.
Support against the ban was rallied by both the country’s government and Prince Hans-Adam II, as they saw the proposal as too much of an extreme reaction to deal with addiction concerns.
Additionally, during these debates the gambling industry was seen as a valuable source of income.
The referendum and the votes needed to trigger it were a result of pressure applied by a group called IG VolksMeinung (popular opinion), which wanted to “stop the casino proliferation”.
IG VolksMeinung was concerned that the proliferation of gambling in the country and the potential harms it causes were not worth the financial gains for the relatively wealthy nation.
The group is also concerned with the potential financial risks, such as money laundering, associated with the gambling industry and wants the country to dissociate from the industry to protect its image.
Following news of the referendum, IG VolksMeinung said it was disappointed, but it will “keep an eye on the situation".
Two casinos opened in Liechtenstein in 2017, the first in more than a century. There are currently six casinos operated around the country.
Separately, on September 30, 2022, the Swiss Federal Council approved an agreement between Liechtenstein and Switzerland on the cross-border exchange of data on excluded casino players.
This means the ban enforced against players from entering and gambling in casinos in Switzerland will also be enforced in Liechtenstein and vice-versa.
The agreement is the first of its kind and is meant to enhance player protection.
The Swiss Federal Council also launched a consultation on the agreement, which ended on January 20, 2023.