Swiss casino revenue up 3.4% in 2018

4 July 2019

Swiss gambling regulator Eidgenössische Spielbankenkommission (ESBK) has reported a 3.4% year-on-year increase in revenue from the country’s land-based casinos in 2018, driven largely by the slot vertical.

Total revenue rose to CHF703.6m (£576.7m/€632.9m/$713.8m), from the country’s eight A licensed casinos (larger venues in urban areas) and 13 B-licensed venues, located in resort towns and smaller communities.

The A-licence venues accounted for CHF426.4m of the total, up 3.8% year-on-year, with the B-licence casinos contributing the remaining CHF277.2m, up 2.7%.

Looking at the market in terms of product, slots were by far the most popular. The vertical saw revenue rise 2.7% from 2017 to CHF567.7m, or 80.7% of total market revenue. Table games, meanwhile, saw revenue rise 6.2% to CHF135.9m.

This resulted in taxes paid by casino operators rising 4.7% year-on-year to CHF332.4m. The bulk (CHF284.9m) went into the country’s national pension scheme, with a further CHF47.5m allocated to the cantonal authorities.

ESBK also revealed that enforcement action taken against unlicensed operators had declined over the year. A total of 98 cases were opened by the regulator in 2018, and it made rulings on 255 cases in total. As of January 1, 2019 there were 117 pending cases remaining. It handed out fines totalling CHF1.5m, and issued claims for CFH509,344 in illegally obtained profits to be returned.

It added that it faces a major challenge in the current year, with the opening of the Swiss online casino market, resulting in ESBK being granted the power to order internet service providers to block access to unlicensed sites. The power to issue blocking orders came into force from July 1, with the regulator noting that it was already preparing to ban its first unlicensed operators.

July 1 also acted as the start date for the country’s igaming market, which only permits land-based casinos to secure licences. To date just four have done so. Grand Casino Baden, which also owns Casino Davos, will work with Gamanza, while Grand Casino Luzern has partnered Paf and Casino Zürichsee operator Swiss Casinos has struck a deal with Playtech.

In related news, the Inter-Cantonal Lotteries and Betting Commission (Comlot) reveal that gross gaming revenue rose 0.4% year-on-year to CHF943m in 2018. However declines in profit for French language Loterie Romande and German cantons' lottery Swisslos resulted in the sum raised for good causes declining to CHF588m.