Switzerland Could Soon Reverse Online Gambling BanNovember 2, 2015 2:28 pm
Currently, Switzerland has 21 land-based casinos, while online gaming sites are banned, as are poker games played outside the nation’s casinos. However, Switzerland’s gambling landscape could soon change dramatically, as plans are currently underway to allow online sites to operate legally inside the country of roughly 8 million people.
Switzerland is one of the world’s richest nations, with its citizens enjoying an average wealth per adult in excess of $500,000. However, Swiss politicians have grown tired of seeing the country’s valuable revenues being funneled into the pockets of unlicensed offshore operators, with the figure estimated to be around $307 million per year. The government is also keenly aware of how Switzerland’s once-booming casino industry is now being adversely affected by the country’s total online gambling ban.
This has lead the Swiss parliament to approve an overhaul of the country’s formal licensing arrangement, and if all progresses accordingly, both Swiss and international firms may eventually be permitted to apply for an operating license, with potential licensees also benefiting from the country’s traditional favorable tax regime. Nevertheless, a number of challenges have first to be overcome, not least from the Swiss Federation of Casinos (CDCM), who objects to non-land based casino operators being granted online licenses. As a CDCM official statement explains:
“We support the idea of expanding the current license. Online is not a new market: it’s just a new platform for distributing an offer that’s already available. It targets the same clients and it meets the same needs of the traditional games. We believe that current brick-and-mortar licensees casino games should not be ‘punished’ for the fact that they have respected the rules that currently forbid them to run operations online.”
Ultimately, this objection could lead to a similar set up to the US market, in which online operators have to partner up with a land-based casino before receiving licenses.
Another positive development for Swiss online gamblers is that there does not appear to be any indications the regulated market will be forcibly isolated from international players. Hopefully, the country is keen to avoid the disastrous ‘ringfenced’ strategy adopted by other European countries, such as France, Italy, and Spain, whose relative poker markets are currently reeling from a lack of player liquidity, and therefore appeal.