Swiss casinos apply for online gaming licences

26 April 2019

Swiss gambling regulator Eidgenössische Spielbankenkommission (ESBK) has received applications from four of the country's casinos for online gaming licences.

Grand Casino Baden, Casino Davos, Grand Casino Luzern and Casino Zürichsee have all filed applications for igaming licences after the country last year passed new laws to permit online gambling for the first time. The Gambling Act allows the country's land-based casinos to launch igaming offerings, but blocks foreign operators from entering the market without a bricks and mortar presence.

ESBK will assess the applications and certify the igaming offerings, with the Swiss National Council, the Bundesrat, to make the final decision as to whether a licence should be awarded. This process is expected to be completed by the end of June.

Some 73% of voters approved the new Gambling Act in a national referendum last June, following debate over a controversial measure to grant authorities the power to have internet service providers block access to unlicensed sites. The legislation came into effect in January of this year, but unlicensed sites will not be blocked until July 1.

Operators that succeed in securing a licence will be able to offer services such as poker and roulette, but also face strict measures on setting maximum sums for poker tournaments, small lotteries and raffles.

For poker, the maximum single entry fee will be CHF200 (£152/€176/$196) for small tournaments and the limit of total entry fees CHF20,000. For lotteries and raffles, the limits will depend on the size of the lottery.

The Stars Group said in March that it is targeting a partnership with a Swiss casino, having temporarily suspended its casino and shuttered its sports betting offering in the market until such a deal is agreed. Swiss Casinos, which operates the Pfäffikon-based Casino Zürichsee, has partnered Playtech for its online launch.

Image: Max Pixel