Swiss casino operators apply for gambling licenses following the introduction of new gambling legislation.
Swiss casinos have started filing applications to obtain new online gambling licenses from their national regulator, Eidgenössische Spielbankenkommission (ESBK). If successful, they will be able to offer table games and slots from July onwards.
According to Swiss media, the ESBK has already received four applications from land-based operators, Grand Casino Baden, Grand Casino Davos, Grand Casino Lucerne and Casino Zurichsee. A final decision on the applications will be made once the ESBK has conducted a full evaluation and consulted the Swiss National Council.
Last summer, Switzerland continued its rather quaint tradition of holding a national referendum and then actually honouring the result.73% of voters approved the introduction of new gambling legislation which legalises online gambling for Swiss-certified casinos while blocking access to foreign operators.
Under the new laws, Swiss-based operators are required to have their online games technically certified. They must also ensure that their partners have not targeted Swiss gamers without permission over the previous five years.
However, the bill drew the ire of the Swiss Green Party who contended that some of the measures amounted to internet censorship. They gathered some 50,000 signatures in an effort to overturn the proposed Gambling Act, thereby triggering the referendum in the first place. Following their defeat, Justice Minister Simonetta Sommaruga insisted that the new legislation would be ‘indispensable’ in the fight to tackle problem gamblers. According to figures published by Addiction Switzerland, 75,000 people suffer from gambling addiction in the tiny Alpine state.
Sommaruga also suggested the government would be better placed to tax gambling revenues as a means of funding anti-gambling measures. An estimated 200 million Swiss francs are spent each year on unregulated foreign betting sites.
Since the new laws were approved, three of the four casino applicants have wasted no time in striking deals with international developers. Swiss Casinos have partnered with UK provider, Playtech while Casino Davos have cozied up with Belgium’s Ardent Group.
Stadtcasino Baden, owner of the Grand Casino in Baden and a 47% stake holder in Casino Davos, is planning a complete overhaul of its operations. Its free-play online gaming platform, Jackpots.ch will now be transformed into a real-money gambling website.
From July 1, Swiss ISPs are required to block domains belonging to foreign gambling operators while Swiss online casino operators will be provided with a six year ‘exclusivity window’ in which to build relationships with local gamblers. During this period, operators based outside the country will not be considered for licensing.