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Gambling Laws in Switzerland

Since 2018, the gambling laws in Switzerland have been strict.

These laws apply to site operators, though, not individual players. Gamblers still have plenty of ways to legally gamble online in Switzerland, as well as in-person.

Keep reading to learn about the recent online gambling legislation in Switzerland and the country’s land-based gambling laws.

Switzerland’s Online Gambling Laws

Prior to 2018, Switzerland’s casinos were not allowed to operate online gambling sites. Players could only access out-of-area casinos that are based in other countries.

Gamblers spent millions of Swiss francs on these foreign casino sites, but those casinos didn’t pay taxes on all that revenue.

Switzerland’s political leaders decided that they wanted that tax revenue to address gambling addiction.

According to Addiction Switzerland, gambling addiction is a problem for at least 75,000 people and costs half a billion Swiss francs to address each year.

So, Swiss political leaders created the Federal Act on Money Games.

The Federal Act on Money Games

Switzerland’s Federal Act on Money Games

The Federal Act on Money Games, or AMG for short, made legal and regulated online gambling available in Switzerland.

It also made it illegal for foreign casino operators to offer their services to players within the country.

These two provisions seem contradictory. One creates more gambling opportunities, and the other restricts them.

But the reality is that both of these provisions accomplish the same thing.

By limiting online gambling legislation to casinos in Switzerland, the country can ensure that those companies follow Swiss gambling laws.

The AMG gives Swiss authorities the right to tax gambling sites and block other sites that aren’t subject to those taxes.

Some gamblers were frustrated because they have fewer online gambling sites to choose from. Other people opposed the law because it restricts online liberty.

Opponents of the law gathered more than 50,000 signatures for a referendum petition. Their petition gave the Swiss people the chance to vote on the AMG.

Nearly 73% of the population voted in favor of the new Switzerland gambling laws.

Blacklisted Gambling Sites in Switzerland

Blacklisted gambling sites in Switzerland

Technically, the AMG went into effect on January 1, 2019. However, the Swiss gambling law included a transition period until June 30, 2019.

During that time, the Swiss Federal Gaming Board created a blacklist of foreign online gambling sites. These sites are not authorized to continue accepting bets from players in Switzerland.

Swiss internet providers are legally obligated to block access to any of the sites on the blacklists.

There are no legal consequences for internet service providers that choose not to block the blacklisted sites. However, the ISP’s that choose to comply do receive compensation from the Swiss government.

The organizations in charge of Switzerland gaming laws continuously update their blacklists in an attempt to enforce the AMG.

Unfortunately, many blacklisted sites find ways to continue offering their services to Swiss gamblers. One tactic they use is to change their domain names frequently.

It is still possible to access unlicensed sites, despite the blacklist blocking, but it’s crucial that you choose a licensed and regulated online gambling site, like the ones we recommend.

Swiss Online Casino and Betting Laws

The AMG separates online gambling activities between casino games and other types of betting. A different organization regulates each gambling activity.

Here is more information about the online gambling laws in Switzerland for online casinos and online sports betting sites.

Online Casinos in Switzerland

Switzerland online casino gambling law requires that Swiss casinos get a license to operate an online casino.

To qualify for the online casino license, they must already have an active land-based casino license. There are 21 licensed land-based casinos in Switzerland that qualify.

However, only a few of them have taken steps to launch an online gambling site. By March 2021, just eight online casinos had launched in Switzerland.

The Swiss Federal Gaming Board oversees the licensing and regulations for online casinos. They have approved a ninth online casino that will be connected to Casino Neuchatel.

Their license was approved in November 2020, but the online site has not launched as of April 2021. You can check the Gaming Board’s website for the latest information on casino launches.

We also have some information about the online casinos in Switzerland in the table below.

Land-Based Casino Online Casino Partner Casino Name Launch Date
Casino Baden Gamanza Jackpots July 5, 2019
Casino Lucerne Paf My Casino August 22, 2019
Casino Pfaffikon/Casino Zurichsee Playtech Swiss Casinos September 2, 2019
Casino Davos Gaming1 Casino 777 September 9, 2019
Casino Interlaken Greentube Star Vegas February 24, 2020
Casino Bern Microgaming/NetEnt 7 Melons September 15, 2020
Casino du Lac Meyrin Group Partouche/NetEnt Pasino November 16, 2020
Casino Lugano Playtech Swiss 4 Win March 1, 2021
Casino Neuchatel TBD TBD TBD

Online Sports Betting in Switzerland

Another organization, Gespa, is in charge of different types of betting.

Gespa is the Swiss Gambling Supervisory Authority that was initially known as Comlot. The rebranding took effect on January 1, 2021.

Their role is to oversee lotteries, sports betting, and skill-based games. The Act on Money Games extended Gespa’s oversight responsibilities to include online versions of the games they already managed.

They also issue licenses and enforce the online betting laws in Switzerland.

Two companies have a license from Gespa; SwissLos and Loterie Romande. They are both Swiss lottery organizations that also offer sports betting.

SwissLos

  • Generally serves customers in the German-speaking Swiss cantons (states).
  • Sporttip is their sports betting program.
  • Horse race bets are offered through Pari Mutuel Urbain.

Loterie Romande

  • Serves the French-speaking cantons.
  • JouezSport is their sports betting program.
  • Horse race bets are offered through Pari Mutuel Urbain.

Both of these organizations offer a full range of sports betting options. The language that they operate in is the most significant difference between the two organizations.

Switzerland online betting laws allow both of these organizations to offer sports betting on their lottery website.

You can also enjoy mobile sports betting through the apps that both of these lottery organizations offer.

However, they both have separate mobile apps for sports betting and lottery games. If you want to play the lottery and bet on sports, you will have to download two apps on your mobile device.

Other Forms of Legal Online Gambling in Switzerland

Online casinos and sports betting options are the most prominent part of Switzerland online gambling laws.

However, there are a few other forms of gambling that are available online. Here are some details about other forms of regulated online gambling in Switzerland.

  • Lottery – You can purchase a lottery ticket online through SwissLos or Loterie Romande.
  • Bingo – SwissLos is the only operator that offers legal online bingo games.
  • Fantasy Betting – There are no laws that specifically manage fantasy sports betting. Individual operators are controlled by different organizations, depending on several factors.
  • Skills Games – Gespa has a list of skill-based games that fall under their authority. Online sites that offer these specific games must get a license from Gespa.

In general, Gespa is the authority that oversees Switzerland gambling laws. Casinos are the only form of gambling managed by the Swiss Federal Gaming Board.

If you have more questions about Switzerland’s laws for online gambling, the Gespa site is your best resource.

Land-Based Gambling Laws in Switzerland

Recent Swizterland gambling legislation is not limited to online gambling. Some provisions also include rules about land-based gambling.

Gambling laws and regulation in Switzerland can be separated by federal and cantonal laws. The federal laws apply throughout the country.

Switzerland is separated into 26 cantons, which are similar to the states in the US. Each canton has a few gambling laws that apply to local, land-based gambling activities.

Let’s take a look at the federal and cantonal gaming laws in Switzerland.

Swiss Casino Laws

The primary gambling organizations that manage online gambling in Switzerland are also in charge of the same land-based gambling opportunities.

The Swiss Federal Gaming Board is in charge of casinos. They offer two different casino licenses.

  • Casino License A – This is known as a Grand Casino license. Casinos with this license can operate a wide variety of casino games, including high-stakes gambling and progressive jackpots. There are no limits on the stake amounts or the number of tables and gaming machines they offer.
  • Casino License B – Spa or Resort Casino licenses are more limited. Operators with Casino License B can only have a maximum of 3 gaming tables. The maximum betting amount for each game cannot exceed CHF 25. Progressive jackpot games are not allowed.

Clearly, casinos with License A have more options. If you have the chance to visit a Swiss Grand Casino, you will be free to enjoy high-stakes gambling on almost any casino game.

However, finding a convenient casino with License A is a little tricky. Most of the casinos with Casino License A are located in big cities.

If you are in the country or a small town, a casino with Casino License B may be your only option.

There are 21 land-based casinos in Switzerland. Eight of them have Casino License A, and thirteen have Casino License B. The table below shows you where each one is located.

Casino Location Licence Type
Grand Casino Luzern AG Luzern A
Casino Interlaken AG Interlaken B
Grand Casino Baden AG Baden A
Grand Casino Kursaal Bern Bern A
Société du Casino de Crans-Montana SA  Crans-Montana B
Swiss Casinos Schaffhausen Schaffhausen B
Casinò Admiral SA (Mendrisio) Mendrisio B
Swiss Casinos Pfäffikon-Lake Zurich Pfaffikon B
Casino Davos AG Davos B
Casinò Lugano SA Lugano A
Casino du Jura SA (Courrendlin) Courrendlin B
Casino St. Moritz AG St. Moritz B
Casino Bad Ragaz AG Bad Ragaz B
Casino de Montreux SA Montreux A
Société Fribourgeoise d’Animation Touristique SA (Granges-Paccot) Ganges-Paccot B
Casino du Lac Meyrin SA Meyrin B
Casinò Locarno SA Locarno B
Airport Casino Basel AG, Basel Basel A
Swiss Casinos St. Gallen St. Gallen A
Swiss Casinos Zurich Zurich A
Casino Neuchâtel SA Neuchatel B

Swiss Laws for Lotteries, Bingo, Sports Betting

Gespa Logo

There were two gambling laws in Switzerland that controlled lotteries and other forms of gambling. However, both of these have been replaced by the new Federal Act on Money Games.

Non-casino gambling is governed by Gespa, which was formerly known as Comlot. The cantons suggested the formation of this organization in 2006 to oversee lotteries.

Gespa’s chief concern is overseeing automated gambling machines and any forms of gambling that cross cantonal lines.

The gambling legislation in Switzerland gives Gespa control over lotteries, sports betting, bingo, and skill-based slot machines.

There is often overlap between Gespa and the cantonal authorities. If the gambling activity involves an automated gaming machine or gambling that crosses cantonal borders, Gespa has the final say.

Gespa was designed to work with the cantonal authorities. They understand each canton’s gambling laws very well.

It is Gespa’s job to ensure that gambling across borders does not violate the laws from one canton or another.

Two lottery companies are licensed to operate in Switzerland: SwissLot and Loterie Romande.

Both of these companies allow players to purchase lottery tickets and sports betting tickets from authorized land-based retailers. These retailers include restaurants, gas stations, and bars.

They also operate skill-based slot machines in specific locations. These games are heavily regulated by Swiss gambling laws.

Other Gambling Subject to Cantonal Law

Each of Switzerland’s 26 cantons has a right to create its own Swiss gambling legislation for local gambling events.

Cantonal law cannot manage any activity that crosses cantonal borders, including online gambling.

Here are some of the other gambling activities that may be subject to local laws.

  • Small, local lotteries that are subject to limited stakes and prize amounts. Tombolas and raffles also fall under this category.
  • In-person sports bets at a specific event. These cannot be conducted through automated machines, and they also have limited prize amounts.
  • Local bingo games for small stakes.
  • Small poker tournaments with a maximum entry fee of CHF200 are allowed, but the operator needs a license from their cantonal gaming authority.
  • Fantasy betting may fall under cantonal jurisdiction, but it is handled on a case-by-case basis.

Cantonal gambling authorities in Switzerland and Gespa are closely connected. All of these organizations work together to manage the same kinds of gambling on different scales.

History of Gambling in Switzerland

Switzerland has a long history that sways back and forth between attempting to ban gambling and allowing it.

The oldest records of gambling activities in Switzerland date back to the Ancient Roman Empire. Rome prohibited games of chances overall, but they made exceptions for festivals and celebrations.

This same attitude continued throughout the Middle Ages. The government tried to prohibit gambling in many forms, but they allowed charitable lotteries and other exceptions.

Modern Swiss laws for gambling began in the 1920s. Here is a timeline of Switzerland’s gambling history.

1923 Switzerland passed the Lotteries and Commercial Betting Act. It prohibited lotteries but gave the cantons authority to allow lotteries for public benefit.
1929 The Gambling Houses Act prohibited casinos except in specific areas that used casinos to support tourism. These casinos could only provide low-stakes games.
1993 Switzerland faced a financial crisis, primarily caused by the need to pay for healthcare for an aging population. The government passed a referendum to allow casinos to generate tax revenue.
1998 Switzerland passed the Federal Act on Games of Chance and Casinos. This law added the casino referendum to the Swiss Constitution, created the Swiss Federal Gaming Board, and prohibited online gambling in Switzerland. It also included regulations that forced casinos to create a prevention plan to address problem gambling.
2006 Cantonal gambling authorities suggested creating Comlot, a federal organization to oversee lotteries and intercantonal gambling activities.
2007 The Swiss Federal Gambling Board determined that poker tournaments are skill games, so they were allowed outside of casinos.
2009 A Swiss Federal Administrative Court ruled that the Gambling Board’s interpretation was correct. Poker games were legally considered skill games and were not subject to regulation.
2010 The Federal Court reversed its poker decision based on a complaint from the Swiss Casino Association. Poker tournaments were not allowed outside of casinos.
2018 Swiss voters approved the new Federal Act on Money Games. It gave land-based casinos the right to operate online casinos and forced internet providers to block access to foreign casino sites.
2019 The Federal Act on Money Games went into effect.
2021 Comlot got rebranded as Gespa.

Legally Gamble Online in Switzerland

Thanks to the Federal Act on Money Games, you no longer have to wonder if gambling online in Switzerland is legal.

Online casino games are legal as long as they are operated by a licensed site that has a partnership with a land-based casino.

Switzerland’s betting laws allow for online sports bets as long as they are conducted through one of the country’s two lottery organizations.

You can also buy lottery tickets, play bingo, and enjoy skill games online. The online gambling laws in Switzerland give citizens a wide variety of gaming options.

Switzerland Gambling Legislation FAQ

Is Betting on Esports Legal in Switzerland?
A

Esports have not been included in any online Switzerland gambling laws. It is considered a skill game that is not subject to Swiss gambling regulation, as long as it is not automated or online.

Gespa can issues licenses for esports activities in some instances.

Do I Have to Pay Taxes on Gambling Winnings in Switzerland?
ASwitzerlands gambling tax laws depend on where you are gambling and how much you won.
  • Winnings from land-based casinos are tax-exempt.
  • Online gambling earnings are tax-exempt up to CHF 1 Million.
  • Earnings from lotteries and skill games are tax-exempt up to CHF 1,000.
  • You must pay taxes on income from any unlicensed game, including those offered by out-of-area casinos.
  • Some gambling earnings may be subject to cantonal taxes.
How Much Do Casinos in Switzerland Pay in Taxes?
A

Switzerland gambling laws states that land-based casinos in Switzerland pay 40% in taxes up to CHF 10 million. Revenue beyond that may be subject to taxes of up to 80%.

Online gambling taxes start at 20% for the first CHF 3 million in revenue but can increase to 80%.

What Are the Punishments for Illegal Gambling in Switzerland?
A

Swiss gambling laws do not punish individual players for illegal online gambling.

However, casino operators and suppliers can face up to three years in prison for operating an unlicensed gambling site or advertising to Swiss players.

Are Slot Machines Legal in Restaurants and Bars in Switzerland?
A

Traditional slot machines are only allowed in casinos, according to the gambling regulations in Switzerland.

However, Gespa has a list of skill-based slot machines that are allowed in restaurants and bars.

Is Poker Legal in Switzerland?
A

Switzerland’s courts have changed their mind on whether poker should be considered a game of skill or luck. These decisions impact whether you can play poker outside of casinos or not.

The Act on Money Games cleared up the poker confusion. The gambling laws in Switzerland say that high-stakes poker games are only allowed in casinos. Small-stakes games are allowed anywhere.