Switzerland is one of the least friendly European countries when it comes to online gambling. The landlocked nation has a relatively open policy when it comes to brick-and-mortar betting, but that is about where it ends. If you are residing in Switzerland and intend to play at an online casino or some other form of internet betting domain, then there are a few things which may wish to make yourself aware of.
Is Online Gambling Legal in Switzerland?
Online gambling is not legal in Switzerland, and it has never been. Between 1921 and 1993, there was a blanket ban on all forms of gambling in the European country. In 1993, the Swiss authorities decided to remove the ban for land-based gaming halls and venues (there were no online gambling sites at the time). However, in 1998, another law followed. This one made is expressly forbidden to play at what were then fledgeling online casino sites. Switzerland was, therefore, one of the first countries in the world to not only ban online gambling but to implement any kind of internet gaming law in the first place.
The Swiss market (as far as land-based establishments go) is regulated by the Swiss Federal Gaming Board, or the SFGB for short. Any licenses issued to gambling venues come from the Swiss Federal Council, and all of the laws fall under the Federal Act on Games of Chance legislation passed in 1998 and more recently.
Swiss Online Casinos
In 2019, there is no such thing as a Swiss online casino. All forms of online casino gaming are illegal in the country. There is a bit of leeway when it comes to federal lotteries, though. Each state in Switzerland is known as a canton, and each canton has been given legal permission to offer its own lottery games online. Those games are run by the Intercantonal Lotteries and Betting Board (Comlot). That is about as far as online gaming gets in the nation, at least for now.
Offshore Casino Sites for Swiss Players
To date, the law states that Swiss players are not permitted to play at online casino sites. However, the Swiss do not go so far as to block access to offshore (foreign) casino sites. Nor do they implement any punishments for Swiss players who break this law. As a result of that, many Swiss decide to sign-up and register at international casinos, and that means many offshore gambling domains are happy to cater to them.
In a bid to appeal to Swiss players, such foreign sites may even offer gameplay in German and French, and use the Swiss Franc as a currency option. For now, these international domains are about all that is open to Swiss players but come the end of 2019; there may be a few new laws coming to pass which could change all that. Whether the changes are for better or for worse depends on your own take on them. Let’s find out more…
Is Anything Likely to Change in the Future?
There is a reason to believe that Switzerland may be about to change its online gambling laws. Rumours have persisted for numerous years that the country would try and follow other European nations by legalising and regulating their own gambling industry. This would, in a sense, mean that operators could apply for Swiss gaming licenses and legally offer gambling games to citizens of the country.
However, it is not immediately clear just how much Switzerland intends to emulate other countries, and how far they are prepared to shift their stance. Sneak peeks at legislation (which has not yet been passed) seem to suggest that Switzerland will indeed make online casinos above board, and only if they are licensed out of the country. There is a catch, though. That catch is that only casinos with brick-and-mortar, land-based operations inside the country will be eligible to apply for a license. Worse still, it may mean that any operator which continues to provide gambling games to Swiss players may be blacklisted.
If these do turn out to be the new laws, the addition of Swiss online casinos would be appreciated by national players. However, the closure of the offshore market would no doubt anger some. As we’ve said, the law could be good or bad, depending on the finer intricacies of the legislation. It has been mooted that such new rules and regulations could come in before the end of 2019.
Top Swiss Casino Sites
Until (and unless) new legislation is passed in Switzerland which legalises online casino gaming even to a marginal degree, Swiss players are going to have to sign up at offshore sites. Fortunately, there are many of these casinos which cater to them, and a good number are safe, secure and well-respected domains.