Swiss gambling participation continues to decline

9 October 2019

The average number of people frequently gambling in Switzerland fell again in 2017, with research commissioned by the Inter-Cantonal Lotteries and Betting Commission (Comlot) and the Eidgenössische Spielbankenkommission (ESBK) showing just 16.4% of respondents gambled at least once a month.

Carried out by the Swiss Institute for Addiction and Health Research (ISGF) on behalf of the two regulatory bodies, the report focused on gambling behaviour in 2017, comparing it to previous data collected in 2012 and 2007.

The study focused on 18,832 respondents, with 16.4% saying they took part in at least one form of gambling each month, down from 16.9% in 2012 and 18.0% in 2007.

Some 69% of respondents said they had gambled once before in the lives, which corresponds to approximately 4.4m people, according to the ISGF. However, this was also a decline on 70.6% in 2012, which the IGSF said represented 5m people.

In terms of spending, players who said they frequently gambled spent less than CHF10 a month, while 39% said they wagered between CHF10 and CHFH99.

Lotteries were the most popular form of gambling, as 48.2% of frequent players said they had played these games in 2017. Raffle and private games followed on 14.3%, then table games with 6.7%, slot machines on 6.7%, gambling halls on 5.7% and Swiss sports betting with 4.5%.

The ISGF also noted that 2.3% of frequent players said they had gambled with a foreign or international online provider in 2017.

Meanwhile, less than two thirds of respondents who gambled said they were at a low risk of developing problems with gambling, or at no risk at all. The ISGF said that 0.2% of respondents were at risk of pathological gambling behavior, with the majority in this percentage (22.1%) playing games supplied by international online providers.

The report also suggested that only a small proportion of respondents reported problems at work or in relation to family members or friends because of playing.

The ISGF said that the number of gambling-related problems are likely to decline following the implementation of the Swiss Federal Act on Real-Money Gaming (Geldspielgesetz) in January of this year.

Geldspielgesetz allows the country's land-based casinos to offer online gambling, while also implementing enforcement measures to block access to unlicensed gaming sites. Comlot this week updated its blacklist of unlicensed operators banned from offering online gambling in the country, with 82 domains having been added since it was launched in September.