Regulators Give the Green Light for New Online Casinos Across Switzerland

Published May 13, 2022 by Brett C

Regulators Give the Green Light for New Online Casinos Across Switzerland

Switzerland's Federal Council has approved brand-new casino zones to be set up in the country. This bodes well for legal-age Swiss online casino players who will now have two additional regional options available.

In a stunning development for Switzerland, the country has relaxed online gambling legislation by permitting two additional legal gaming zones in Switzerland. In addition, the Swiss Federal Council – the regulatory body for the Switzerland gambling market – has given the thumbs up for more legal online gambling.

Some 23 casino licences will now be available through to new casino zones. This, according to the Switzerland Federal Council and gambling regulator. This news comes hot on the heels of a decision made by ESBK (Swiss Federal Gaming Board). As an official government body, it is tasked with enhancing gambling activity and specific recommendations for the industry.

The two regions with permission to issue gambling licences include Lausanne and Winterthur. The official government body, ESBK, has invited applicants to begin applying for type A concession tenders starting this month. The ESBK lays out the rules governing approvals and license types. All licensed operators in Switzerland can apply for license extensions to provide online casino gaming. So far, 8/21 licensed operators offer remote gambling services.

Legal Matters

According to legislation in Switzerland, the country currently supports 21 demarcated zones for gambling. There are 8 Class A operators and 13 Class B operators (twenty-year licensing). The two new regions that have been granted official status to issue licences for online casinos – Lausanne and Winterthur - can provide unrestricted Class A licences. Class B casinos will have a limit of Fr.25 on betting activity.

By 2024, all current licensed operators will have to renew their licences. ESBK will also be offering a report on the viability of the Swiss gambling industry. This rezoning does not affect the current licensees, nor does it affect the territory they are based in. Operators interested in applying for online casino licensing can submit their applications.

The Current Status of the Swiss Gambling Industry

Over the past two decades, the Swiss gambling industry has grown dramatically. Some 21 casinos are now operational, offering various games and employment benefits to communities across Switzerland. Since 2002, the industry has paid taxes to the tune of Fr.7.309 billion, and a massive amount of Fr.6.253 billion has been funnelled to the Swiss pension program, AHV. The annual turnover of type A casinos is estimated at Fr.30 million at minimum, and the regulatory authority intends to harness the potential of type A casinos.

The minimum consumer catchment area for type A casinos spans 300,000 players over a 30-minute drive. Where fewer permanent residents exist, exceptions can be made based on profitability. All Swiss licensed casinos must comply fully with AML regulations. These are known as AMLA laws in Switzerland. Before players can access many games at Swiss online casinos, they must be approved by the ESBK.

Switzerland currently provides players with access to 21 legal land-based casinos. Since 2019, online casinos have hit the scene courtesy of 8 fully licensed Swiss brands. Players do not have to pay taxes on winnings, but casino operators must contribute 40% tax, and online revenues face 20% tax. According to Swiss law, only land-based licensed casinos can operate online casinos. The open application process for the two new regions in Switzerland is exciting because any operator can apply for access to the Switzerland gambling market.

Currently, it is unclear whether non-Swiss operators can apply for licences in the country.

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