Gambling law in Switzerland

Gambling law in Switzerland


Switzerland did not allow any form of gambling for the greater part of 20th century. A law was passed in the year 1921 which disallowed any form of gambling activity to take place in the country. This ban had been active till the year 1993, post which the rules were relaxed to a certain extent which allowed citizens to take part in the national lottery and indulge in casinos, sports betting and poker.

Legal Landscape for Gambling

Switzerland prohibited gambling in the year 1921, only to revise it in 1993, where as per the new legislation, only limited stakes casino gambling was permitted. In the month of April 2000, the Federal Law on Games of chance and casinos allowed unlimited stakes casino gambling along with dividing the games into two categories-skills based and games of chance. The gambling law allowed only games of chance to be played in the casinos.

As of date, there are around 19 casinos located in Switzerland along with 11 racecourses. These 19 casinos are spread over 26 cantons and none of the canton has more than one casino. At these casinos everything from pari-mutuel betting to slots gaming is permitted. And although as per the 1921 laws, lottery is considered illegal, the cantons are free to set up their own state lottery systems. These state lotteries have now merged to form two companies which along with lotteries also offer sports betting.

In Switzerland, till date, technically it is illegal to operate online casinos and online gambling as per the Swiss confederation. The Swiss government though is looking at regulating the online gambling market and in the year 2013, it launched an initial review. And this has been done to check on the high amount of illegal gambling which takes place from the Swiss land.

Relevant Gambling Legislation in Switzerland

There is a federal & a Cantonal regulator which ensures proper supervision and implementation of the gambling rules. The cash gambling luck games are put under the Swiss federal gaming board’s supervision and this board operates as an independent authority. This board along with holding the regulatory functions with the Federal Act of Games of Chance and Casinos, to oversee the casinos and supervise their compliance, also makes the decision related to identifying if the game be classified as a chance game or a game of skill.

Swiss Federal Council is another authority which is concerned with issuing of licenses for the casinos. It also determines the license numbers to be issued and their respective validity. The Inter-cantonal Lottery & Betting Board supervises lotteries and sports betting. This board which came into existence in 2006 is responsible for supervising and global licensing the lottery and betting establishments in the country.

Online Gambling in Switzerland

Despite the fact that online gambling is banned in Switzerland, there is not a single piece of legislation which enforces the prohibition. And hence, online gambling continues in the country. As per the law, Swiss residents cannot bet on the websites of the local casinos. However, nothing has been mentioned related to the foreign gambling websites and hence, even banks have partnered with them.

You might also like the article about the Gambling Law in South Africa.

The Future of Gambling in Switzerland

Looking at the future and the lucrativeness of the market, the ban related to online gambling and casinos is to be relaxed. The government is looking regulate the online gaming market. Currently due to lack of proper regulations, the government cannot enforce a complete ban on online gambling. The citizens are free to play the online games on the foreign websites. The relaxation on the ban and regulations are only set to increase the income through tax for the government.

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