Casinos for youThe regulatory body for Switzerland's gambling market received the go-ahead from the country's Federal Council to create new casino zones. Soon Swiss gamblers can enjoy two more options.
Switzerland's Federal Council and its gambling regulator announced two new casino zones to allow for 23 casino licences. The decision followed a report from the Swiss Federal Gaming Board (ESBK), where the body elaborates on the gambling landscape in Switzerland and includes recommendations for further enhancements.
Two new regions, Lausanne and Winterthur, become available for casinos, and the ESBK invites applicants to participate in the type A concession tenders from May onwards. The Federal Council stipulated the type of licences and the approval requirements.
All Swiss licensed operators may apply for licence extensions to provide online casino services, with 8 of the current 21 operators providing remote gambling.
Licence Renewals and New Opportunities
The current Swiss gambling landscape allows for 21 demarcated gambling zones within the country's borders. Licence specifications include 8 Class A operators and 13 Class B operators with a 20-year licence period. The new Lausanne and Winterthur licence holders benefit from an unrestricted Class A licence. Class B casinos have a CHF25 cap on bets.
All current operators face licence renewal applications by the end of 2024, and the proposal from ESBK comes along with a report on the success of Switzerland's gambling industry. The rezoning decision has no impact on current licensees or the region they are based in. Approval for the new licences comes from the ESBK, and the Federal Council advised the application process is an open procedure. This means that all interested parties may apply for the concessions.
Switzerland's Gambling Industry
ESBK reports on the country's success as the gambling market achieved set-out legislative goals throughout the past two decades. Its 21 casinos, dispersed throughout the country, offer citizens entertainment and economic benefits, and the regulator believes in preserving this success.
The total tax benefit derived from the casinos amounts to CHF 7.309 billion since 2002, with CHF 6.253 billion allocated to the Swiss pension program (AHV). Type A casinos have a predetermined annual turnover minimum of CHF 30 million. The ESBK proposed the new casino zones as Type A licences to harness their respective areas' potential.
Type A casinos may only operate in an area with a minimum consumer catchment of 300,000 residents within a 30-minute drive radius. An exception exists for regions with smaller permanent residents catchments if the applicant proves that a high portion of tourists contributes to its economic success.
Recognised as financial intermediaries, Swiss casinos must comply with the Swiss Money Laundering Act (AMLA), and all licence holders must offer games safely and transparently. The ESBK approves all games offered in the country before players have access to it.
Gambling Online in Switzerland
The Swiss gambling industry offers citizens a safe and recognisable space to enjoy games of chance. For the last twenty years, players in Switzerland have had 21 land-based casinos at their disposal, and since 2019, they have enjoyed online gambling with 8 Swiss-licensed brands. There are no taxes payable on winnings from games of chance. However, operators face a 40% Tax contribution, and online revenues face a 20% Tax penalty.
Swiss laws only permit operators to offer online games of chance if they have a land-based casino licence with the ESBK. The exciting revelation of an open application process for the new licences allows for any operator to tender for their piece of the Swiss-gambling market. Whether a non-Swiss operator could gain entry into the exclusive market remains to be seen.
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