Swiss think tank Avenir Suisse proposes online-only casino licences

Online gaming in Switzerland is currently tied to land-based casinos.
Online gaming in Switzerland is currently tied to land-based casinos.

The think tank believes Switzerland should allow online offerings other than those of land-based casinos and should combine its two gaming regulators

Switzerland.- Currently, only land-based casinos in Switzerland can offer online gambling by partnering with an igaming operator. The economics think tank Avenir Suisse suggests that should change, proposing the country create online-only licences.

The think tank said that the gambling sector in Switzerland is politicised and inefficient, with politicians choosing to direct the proceeds of gambling revenue. It argued that this has created a “veritable cash distribution industry” around Swtizerland’s two lotteries – Swisslos and Loterie Romandie.

Its report states: “The distribution of gambling money is not optimal. The cantonal lottery funds regularly finance projects that interpret the notion of public utility enshrined in the Constitution very broadly.”

It also noted that tax revenue from some casinos goes to different cantons, not those where the land-based casinos are located. Moreover, some cantons were effectively regulators and operators because of their stakes in casinos, the report argues.

It also said the way funds are distributed was inefficient, with friction costs totalling “several tens of millions of francs” and that the division of regulatory duties between national-level and cantonal bodies also brought challenges.

Proposals for a combined gaming regulator

Avenir Suisse proposed changes in three areas. It said the government should focus on regulation, not operating gambling and should directly redistribute gambling proceeds. Meanwhile the two national regulators, Eidgenössische Spielbankenkommission (ESBK) for the German-speaking areas and Gespa for the French should be combined to create a single regulator. 

It also said regulators should drop their notion of online-gambling as an extension of land-based gambling and instead accept online gambling as a sector in itself, granting online-only licences.

The report said: “Unlike the current system, in which digital games are the exception, the opposite is expected to happen in the future. Analogue games will be treated as exceptions, which will turn the system upside down.”

New land-based casino licences in Switzerland

The call comes just after the Federal Council of Switzerland approved the creation of two new casino licensing regions in the country. The move will allow two new casino licences to be granted, adding to the existing 21 licensees. A tender process will begin next month, with the winning licensees to be announced in autumn.

Switzerland allows one casino licence for each licensing region. Currently there are 21 regions, but the Federal Gaming Board (ESBK) recommended the system be updated to add Lausanne and Winterthur as two new regions. The existing 21 casino licences will not be affected.

There are two types of casino licences in Switzerland – Class A and Class B licences. The new regions will get Class A licences, which have no stake limits and are issued to casinos expected to generate at least CHF30m in revenue each year. There are currently eight Class A licences.

Class B licences, of which there are currently 13, have a CHF25 (€24.44) stake limit for slot machines.

See also: Swiss regulators add dozens more sites to blacklists

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