1 History of and overall attitudes to gambling
1.1 How prevalent are different types of gambling in your jurisdiction? For example, does the current law reflect: (a) Religious or moral objections to gambling? (b) A permissive approach which also seeks to address the social consequences of gambling? and (c) The promotion of gambling as an 'export' industry?
(a) Religious or moral objections to gambling?
Casino gambling was prohibited in Switzerland for a long time. It was legalised only when politicians realised that Swiss citizens were gambling away large sums of money abroad, close to the border. The decision was economically motivated: the taxation of casinos brings significant revenues into the coffers of Switzerland's old age and survivors' insurance system. Today, there are no strong religious or moral objections to gambling.
(b) A permissive approach which also seeks to address the social consequences of gambling?
Gambling is allowed, but casinos must meet certain standards to protect players.
(c) The promotion of gambling as an 'export' industry?
The law is only designed for Swiss casinos and differs from, for example, the regimes in the European Union and the European Economic Area. Consequently, it is not suitable for Swiss casinos to expand abroad.
2 Legal and regulatory framework
2.1 Which legislative and regulatory provisions govern gambling in your jurisdiction?
According to Article 106 of the Federal Constitution, the competence to legislate on matters of money games (including money gambling as well as lotteries, betting, casino games and skill games) rests with the Confederation. As is usual in Switzerland, enforcement is the responsibility of the 26 cantons, which in turn issue cantonal enforcement ordinances.
Both federal law and cantonal legislative acts must therefore be observed. In addition, there is cooperation between the cantons in some areas based on so-called 'inter-cantonal concordats' (see question 2.2)
At the federal level, the Money Gaming Act of 29 September 2017 (SR 935.51), which entered into force on 1 January 2019, serves as a framework law that regulates the admissibility, implementation and use of gaming revenues from bricks-and-mortar money gaming, online money gaming and skill-related money gaming (subject to statutory exceptions such as short-term money games for advertising purposes, money games limited to private circles or financial market-related activities).
The Money Gaming Act is further specified by the Federal Gaming Ordinance (SR 935.511) and the Federal Casino Ordinance (SR 935.511.1), both of 7 November 2018 and in force since 1 January 2019.
In addition, other legislative acts must be observed in the specific case – notably:
- the Federal Anti-Money Laundering Act of 10 October 1997, in force since 1 April 1998 (SR 955.0); and
- the specific Money Laundering Ordinance of 12 November 2018, in force since 1 January 2018, issued by the Federal Gaming Board (SR 955.021).
To standardise cantonal laws and ordinances, the cantons concluded agreements among themselves (,inter-cantonal concordats'). Three relevant agreements concern gambling:
- All 26 cantons are members of the Cross-Switzerland Money-Gambling Concordat (GSK);
- The German-speaking cantons and the Italian-speaking canton of Ticino have concluded the Inter-cantonal Agreement concerning the Joint Implementation of Money Games 2020; and
- The French-speaking cantons of Western Switzerland have also joined forces in a concordat (Convention romande sur les jeux d'argent).
2.2 Which bodies are responsible for regulating and enforcing the applicable laws and regulations? What powers do they have?
As noted under question 2.1, regulations exist at the federal and cantonal level, which are complemented by inter-cantonal concordats. Accordingly, there are various authorities with regulatory and supervisory functions.
The Federal Gaming Commission (ESBK) is responsible for the supervision and enforcement of the Money Gaming Act regarding casino games. Among other things, it:
- examines licence applications and applications for licence extensions for the online operation of casino games (the granting of a licence ultimately falls under the responsibility of the Federal Council – that is, the Federal Government);
- assesses and collects the casino tax; and
- tackles illegal gambling by establishing barriers to access for illegal online offers and by prosecuting illegal gambling.
The ESBK is an independent body. Administratively, however, it is assigned to the Federal Department of Justice and Police.
The Inter-Cantonal Gaming Supervision (Gespa) is responsible for monitoring and enforcing the Money Gaming Act in the area of large-scale gambling. It is an inter-cantonal institution under public law with its own legal personality. Gespa carries out its supervisory activities independently and autonomously (Article 21 of the GSK). Its tasks include:
- the licensing and supervision of large-scale gaming operators and their large-scale gaming offerings;
- the qualification of these games (in particular, games of skill); and
- the combating of illegal money games.
Gespa also acts as Switzerland's national platform for combating the manipulation of sports competitions. Finally, Gespa is the competence centre of the cantons for all aspects of money games; it publishes statistics on large and small games and a report on the (charitable) use of the net profits from lotteries and sports betting every year.
The cantons are responsible for the supervision and enforcement of the Money Gaming Act regarding small-scale gaming, including raffles and small poker tournaments hosted outside of casinos.
2.3 What is the regulators' general approach in regulating the gambling sector?
Determining the exact approach across such a wide array of regulators is difficult. However, some common principles follow from the purpose of the Money Gaming Act:
- The population must be adequately protected from the dangers posed by money games;
- Money games must be conducted in a safe and transparent manner;
- The net profits from large-scale games (except for the net profits from games of skill games and the net profits from certain types of small-scale games) must be used in full and in a transparent manner for charitable purposes; and
- A portion of the gross gaming revenues of the casinos must be used for the benefit of old age, survivors' and disability insurance.
3 Definitions and scope of gambling
3.1 How is 'gambling' defined in your jurisdiction?
The term 'gambling' itself is not explicitly defined. It is rather a subset or a manifestation of the legal term 'money games', which are defined as "games in which a monetary prize or other monetary advantage is in prospect in return for the payment of a monetary stake or upon conclusion of a legal transaction" (Article 3(a) of the Money Gaming Act). The term 'money games' is broader than the term 'games of chance'.
3.2 What different types of activities are defined in the gambling legislation and what specific requirements apply to each? Please consider: (a) Betting (fixed odds/pool and spread)/betting on lotteries; (b) Gaming (house and ring games); (c) Lotteries/scratch cards and (d) The interface with financial products (if relevant).
The law is linked to the central legal term 'money games' (see question 3.1).
Based on this term, a distinction is made between lotteries, sports betting and skill games:
- 'Lotteries' are "money games that are open to an unlimited or at least a large number of persons and in which the result is determined by one and the same random draw or by a similar procedure" (Article 3(b) of the Money Gaming Act);
- 'Sports betting' is defined as "money games in which the winnings are dependent on the correct prediction of the course or outcome of a sports event" (Article 3(c) of the Money Gaming Act); and
- 'Skill games' are "money games in which the winnings depend wholly or mainly on the skill of the player" (Article 3(d) of the Money Gaming Act).
Access to the Swiss money games market requires a licence or a concession (Article 3 of the Money Gaming Act).
The specific requirements of the Money Gaming Act for grant of a licence or a concession are determined by the mode in which the money game is conducted.
The Money Gaming Act distinguishes between three types of money games:
- 'Large-scale games' include lotteries, sports betting and games of skill that are carried out in an automated or cross-cantonal manner or online (Article 3(e) of the Money Gaming Act);
- 'Small-scale games' comprise lotteries, sports betting and poker tournaments that are neither automated nor cross-cantonal nor online (eg, small lotteries, local sports betting, small poker tournaments) (Article 3(f) of the Money Gaming Act); and
- 'Casino games' are defined as money games that are open to a strictly limited number of persons; sports betting, games of skill and small-scale games are excluded (Article 3(g) of the Money Gaming Act).
For the requirements to obtain the various mandatory concessions or licences, see question 6.
3.3 What are the main mechanisms and features of the control of gambling in your jurisdiction? What are the consequences of breach of the regulations, both for operators and for players?
What are the consequences of breach of the regulations, both for operators and for players?
To conduct money games, a concession or licence is required. Various institutions are responsible for issuing concessions/licences and ensuring compliance with the regulations. Furthermore, the operator must present a social concept (see question 11). If the operator does not comply with the regulations, it will be fined or lose its concession/licence.
4 Issues of jurisdiction
4.1 What approach do the courts take to the issue of jurisdiction? Where an operator which is physically outside the jurisdiction offers services to individuals within the jurisdiction, is such gambling treated as taking place offshore and outside the control of the authorities? If not, what triggers establish when such gambling is subject to the laws and control of your jurisdiction?
Swiss jurisdiction is considered to be established when someone accesses an online gambling website from Switzerland. However, since a Swiss domicile is a prerequisite for a licence, this only affects Swiss gaming providers. To ensure that foreign gaming providers cannot be accessed from Switzerland, network locks have been put in place.
4.2 Can foreign operators provide remote gambling services in your jurisdiction without obtaining a licence? Can licensed domestic operators provide services overseas?
Only casinos with a registered office in Switzerland can apply for a licence/concession that includes online gambling. This was confirmed by the Federal Supreme Court in three landmark rulings rendered on 18 May 2022 (2C_336/2021, 2C_337/2021 and 2C_338/2021). Three foreign companies had offered online money games in Switzerland. The Inter-Cantonal Gaming Court issued a ruling restricting access to online gaming services not authorised in Switzerland. In parallel, it ordered the blocking of the companies' domains.
The Federal Supreme Court held that the fundamental right to economic freedom does not apply to complainants in the area of gambling. The legislature has made use of its constitutional authorisation to deviate from this principle by restricting the offer of online money games to organisers and games licensed in Switzerland and supervised by national authorities. The case law of the Court of Justice of the European Union and the European Free Trade Association Court concerning the EU and European Economic Area fundamental freedoms was found to be irrelevant in this regard.
5 Remote versus non-remote gambling
5.1 Does the gambling regime in your jurisdiction distinguish between remote and non-remote gambling? If so, how are these defined?
Thanks to an extension of their licence, physically existing licensed casinos can now conduct casino games via the Internet or other telecommunications-based networks.
The Federal Gaming Ordinance specifies that, under certain conditions, a casino may cooperate with a foreign organiser of casino games to conduct online poker games (Article 18 of the Federal Gaming Ordinance). The ordinance also stipulates that anyone who wants to play online must open a player account, which is only possible for adults who live in Switzerland and are not subject to a gambling ban or prohibition (Article 47 of the Federal Gaming Ordinance).
Since only licensed casinos domiciled in Switzerland may offer online gaming services, access to gaming services not licensed in Switzerland by organisers that are domiciled or resident abroad is blocked (Article 86 of the Money Gaming Act). For this purpose, the authorities maintain blacklists of unauthorised gaming websites.
5.2 Are there any restrictions on the media through which gambling can be provided (eg, internet/mobile telephony)?
Yes, access to foreign gambling websites is restricted (geo-blocking). This is done to stop foreign gambling operators from evading supervision by Swiss authorities and circumventing Swiss law.
6.1 What types of licences are available? Please consider: (a) Operators; (b) Activities (if relevant); (c) Premises; (d) Key individuals (if relevant) and (e) Equipment (if relevant).
A distinction must be made between:
- a permit (police reservation); and
- a concession (licence to operate in a state monopoly area).
The authorisation to operate a casino is a concession. Article 6 of the Money Gaming Act distinguishes between two types of concessions:
- Concession A: Casinos holding a Concession A may refer to themselves as 'grand casinos'.
- Concession B: Casinos holding a Concession B may be restricted in terms of the number and types of games, as well as the stakes and winnings, they can offer. The authorities may also impose special requirements for the operation of jackpot systems.
The Money Gaming Act also allows casinos to offer their games online. To do so, a licence extension is required, which is granted by the Federal Council (ie, the government). In addition to the licence extension, casinos need approval from the Federal Gaming Commission (ESBK) for the individual games before they can commence online activities.
A licence is also required to conduct small and large games.
6.2 Which bodies award and oversee such licences?
The granting of a concession falls within the remit of the Federal Council. The Federal Gaming Commission is responsible for checking the licensing requirements and for monitoring compliance with them.
Large games such as lotteries, sports betting and games of skill require an inter-cantonal licence and are subject to supervision by the Inter-Cantonal Gaming Supervision. Smaller games only require a cantonal licence.
The right to offer lottery and sports betting has been exclusively granted by the cantons to Swisslos and Lotterie Romande. The cantons are the owners of these two institutions.
6.3 What are the key features of such licences (eg, term/renewal/any limit on overall numbers/change of control)?
A concession is valid for 20 years. If justified by the particular circumstances, the Federal Council may provide for a shorter or longer duration. In particular, the Federal Council may provide for a shorter duration for the extension of the concession to include the right to conduct casino games online. The concession may be extended or renewed, but there is no right to have it extended or renewed.
6.4 What are the substantive requirements to obtain a licence (eg, company established in the jurisdiction/physical presence/capitalisation?)
According to Article 8 of the Money Gaming Act, a licence may be granted if:
- the applicant:
- is a stock corporation under Swiss law and its share capital is divided into registered shares;
- submits a safety concept and a social concept;
- submits profitability calculations which credibly show that the casino is economically viable;
- presents measures to create the conditions for the proper assessment of the casino levy; and
- presents in a report the economic benefit of the casino for the region in which it is located;
- the applicant, its most important business partners and their beneficial owners, and the owners of shares as well as their beneficial owners, enjoy a good reputation and offer a guarantee of irreproachable business activity and independent management;
- the applicant and the holders of shares and their beneficial owners and, at the request of the ESBK, the most important business partners have sufficient own funds and can prove the legitimate origin of the funds at their disposal;
- the statutes, the organisational and operational structure, and the contractual obligations guarantee the proper and independent management of the casino's business; and
- the relevant canton and municipality are in favour of the operation of a casino.
As noted under question 6.2, large-scale money games in the form of lotteries and sports betting are exclusively reserved to two providers owned by the cantons. Accordingly, no new licences will be issued. The following considerations thus only concern (large-scale) games of skill.
According to Article 22 of the Money Gaming Act, a licence may be granted where the applicant:
- is a legal entity under Swiss law;
- enjoys a good reputation;
- presents its economic situation;
- discloses any financial or other participations in other enterprises;
- proves the legitimate origin of the funds at its disposal;
- guarantees irreproachable management and its independence vis-à-vis third parties;
- has sufficient funds at its disposal and guarantees that the winnings are paid out to the players; and
- has a security and social concept.
Permission to conduct a small-scale game may be granted pursuant to Article 33 of the Money Gaming Act if the organiser:
- is a legal entity under Swiss law;
- enjoys a good reputation;
- guarantees transparent and impeccable business and game execution; and
- designs the small-scale game so that it can be conducted in a safe and transparent manner and poses a low risk of excessive gambling, crime and money laundering.
Companies wishing to offer online casino games must meet the licensing conditions of Article 8 para 1 lit a nos 1–4 and lit b–d of the Money Gaming Act as well as various technical requirements. The ESBK may issue technical gaming regulations for:
- online gaming platforms;
- jackpot systems;
- the electronic accounting and control system;
- the data recording system; and
- gaming equipment and accessories (Article 20 of the Federal Gaming Ordinance).
6.5 What are the formal and documentary requirements to obtain a licence?
The Federal Council determines how many concessions are awarded. As a rule, these concessions all expire at the same time. The ESBK, which is entrusted with the management of the award procedure, opens an invitation to tender to redistribute the concessions. The various interested parties can apply to be invited to submit an offer by submitting a concession application.
Applicants may request the application materials in editable format by emailing email@example.com.
6.6 What is the typical timetable for obtaining a licence?
The tender process runs for four months. The applications are then processed and the results are communicated to the applicants approximately one year later.
6.7 What costs are typically incurred in obtaining a licence?
A lump-sum advance payment is required for the processing of applications. This amounts to CHF 100,000 for a concession and CHF 150,000 for a concession combined with a concession extension. For other expenses incurred by the ESBK, the fees are assessed in accordance with Article 102 of the Federal Gaming Ordinance based on the time spent and the expertise required. The fees range from CHF 100 to CHF 350 per hour, depending on the function level of the executive staff and whether a transaction is handled by the Commission or its Secretariate. Additional costs may be incurred for ongoing monitoring pursuant to Article 106 of the Federal Gaming Ordinance.
7 Ongoing compliance
7.1 What are the operator's rights and obligations under the licence?
To offer or execute the game placed under licence.
7.2 Can licences be transferred? If so, how? What restrictions apply?
The concession is not transferable. Legal transactions that disregard or circumvent this prohibition are void.
7.3 What requirements and restrictions apply to the different types of gambling facilities in your jurisdiction?
For the restrictions and requirements, see questions 9 and 11.
8 Penalties and sanctions
8.1 What penalties and sanctions are available to the authorities for breach of the gambling legislation?
The Money Gaming Act provides for custodial sentences or fines if certain regulations are not observed. Anyone that intentionally organises or makes available casino games or games of chance on a large scale without possessing the necessary permits or authorisations is liable to a custodial sentence not exceeding three years or to a monetary penalty. The same applies if someone provides the technical means for such unauthorised games with knowledge of the intended use. If the offence is committed on a commercial basis, the custodial sentence will not exceed five years and the periodic penalty payment will not be less than 180 daily units. A fine of up to 180 daily periodic penalty payments will be imposed on anyone that intentionally obtains a licence or permit by providing false information or by any other fraudulent means (Article 130 para 3 of the Money Gaming Act).
9 Advertising and marketing of gambling
9.1 What requirements and restrictions apply to the advertising and marketing of physical and remote gambling in your jurisdiction? Do these vary depending on the type or location of the activity, or the medium through which it is carried out?
Article 74 para 1 of the Money Gaming Act stipulates that operators of both physical and remote money games must not advertise in an obtrusive or misleading manner.
Advertising messages are considered misleading according to Article 77 para 1 of the Federal Gaming Ordinance in particular where they:
- make distorting statements about chances of winning or possible winnings; or
- convey the impression that:
- knowledge, ability, skill or other player characteristics influence the chances of winning, without this being true due to the nature of the game;
- the chances of winning are increased by playing longer or more frequently;
- money games are a suitable means of solving financial or personal problems;
- participation in money games is an alternative to a working life; or
- increased participation in gambling is an appropriate means to compensate losses already incurred.
Article 77 para 2 of the Federal Gaming Ordinance enumerates obtrusive types of advertising. The list is non-exhaustive and includes:
- telemarketing activities;
- sales activities in residences or their immediate surroundings, on public transportation and at promotional events associated with an excursion or similar occasion;
- personally addressed advertising through electronic channels without the possibility to waive or unsubscribe; and
- advertising by means of push messages based on electronic location detection of a player's mobile device or other forms of personally addressed advertising via electronic channels based on such location detection.
According to Article 74 paras 2 and 3 of the Money Gaming Act:
- advertising may not be directed at minors or barred persons; and
- advertising for money games not licensed in Switzerland is prohibited.
(Indirect) advertising (Article 76 of the Federal Gaming Ordinance) of games that do not require stakes or do not result in the distribution of winnings is subject to the restrictions and prohibitions laid down in Article 74 of the Money Gaming Act if:
- the games are offered by an operator whose main offer consists of money games; and
- the connection between games without stakes and winnings and cash games offered by the same operator is obvious to the player.
The offering of demo versions in the form of a money game for advertising purposes or a free game with free game credits is permitted under the conditions of Articles 78 and 79 of the Federal Gaming Ordinance.
According to Article 131 of the Money Gaming Act, a fine of up to CHF 500,000 may be imposed on anyone that advertises:
- money games that are not licensed in Switzerland; or
- licensed money games that are directed at barred persons or minors.
10 Consumer protection
10.1 What social responsibility obligations apply to land-based and remote gambling operators in your jurisdiction? Do these vary depending on the type or location of the activity, or the medium through which it is carried out?
Organisers of money games must take appropriate measures to protect players from gambling addiction. The protection of minors is also explicitly regulated and they are particularly protected by strict restrictions on admission.
The measures to be taken by the organisers of money games must be based on the potential danger posed by the gambling activity in question. The greater the potential danger posed by a game, the stricter the requirements.
Casinos and organisers of large-scale games must draw up a social concept. This must contain various measures, which in particular contribute to:
- the information of players;
- the early detection of at-risk players;
- self-monitoring, game restrictions and game moderation;
- the imposition and implementation of bans on gambling;
- education and regular training of personnel entrusted with the implementation of the social concept; and
- the collection of data to evaluate the effectiveness of the measures taken.
The detailed measures are listed in Articles 77 to 84 of the Money Gaming Act and Articles 81 to 86 of the Federal Gaming Ordinance.
The cantons are also obliged to:
- take measures to prevent excessive gambling; and
- provide counselling and treatment services for persons at risk of and addicted to gambling and for those around them.
In addition to these generally applicable regulations, special rules exist for online gaming. As of the opening of the player account, players must always have easy access to the stakes, their winnings and the net result of their gaming activity. The determination of a maximum value in terms of stakes and losses by the players concerned is a mandatory requirement. Moreover, the organisers of online money games must provide players with information on excessive money games in a clearly visible and easily accessible manner (cf Article 88 of the Federal Gaming Ordinance). Furthermore, players must be given the opportunity to temporarily opt out of the game for a period determined by them, up to a maximum of six months. Players cannot unilaterally change the duration of this temporary exit before it expires.
The operators of online games must monitor games with a certain risk potential based on their protection concept and, if necessary, take the necessary measures immediately.
10.2 What other general consumer protection requirements are of relevance for gambling operators in your jurisdiction?
Organisers of money games must take appropriate measures to protect players from gambling addiction and from placing stakes that are disproportionate to their income and assets. The protection of minors is explicitly regulated (Article 72 of the Money Gaming Act), and they are particularly protected by strict restrictions on admission.
The organisers of money games are prohibited from granting loans or advances to players. The granting of free games or free game credits requires the prior consent of the competent enforcement authority.
Game-related protective measures must be taken based on the potential danger posed by the money game in question. The greater the potential risk, the stricter the requirements. When assessing the risk potential and determining the requisite measures, particular consideration must be given to the game's characteristics and the features of its distribution channel. Money gaming is only approved if the protective measures are sufficient
11 Financial crime
11.1 How does the gambling regime interface with money laundering/terrorist financing/proceeds of crime legislation in your jurisdiction?
According to Article 2 para 2 lit e and f of the Anti-Money Laundering Act, casinos and promoters of large-scale games are considered financial intermediaries and are therefore obliged to comply with money laundering due diligence duties. For promoters of large-scale games, this only applies if winnings of a significant value are paid out to a player.
Casinos and organisers of large-scale gaming are required by law to draw up a security concept, which includes measures to ensure safe and transparent gaming operations and to combat crime and money laundering (Article 42 of the Money Gaming Act). The measures must notably ensure that:
- the organisational structures and operating procedures as well as the responsibilities attached to them are documented;
- a control system is operated which checks and documents the gaming and winnings payment transactions;
- the profit determination procedures function properly;
- unauthorised persons are denied access to gaming operations; and
- gaming operations are designed in a way that prevents unauthorised acts (Article 42 para 2 lit a–e of the Money Gaming Act).
Casinos and organisers of large-scale games must inform the competent enforcement authority of all important incidents that may jeopardise the security and transparency of gaming operations.
12 Non-gambling activities/social gambling
12.1 What specific activities, if any, are exempted from the gambling regime in your jurisdiction (eg, prize contests/sweepstakes/free prize draws/e-sports)?
The Money Gaming Act does not apply to the following activities:
- money games in private circles;
- games of skill that are not automated, inter-cantonal or online;
- sports competitions;
- lotteries and games of skill conducted for a short period of time for the purpose of sales promotion, from which there is no risk of excessive gambling and in which participation takes place exclusively through the purchase of goods or services offered at prices that are at most in line with the market;
- lotteries and games of skill organised by media companies for a short period of time to promote sales, from which there is no risk of excessive gambling and in which participation can also be free of charge under the same good conditions of access and participation as in the case of payment of a monetary stake or conclusion of a legal transaction; and
- activities that are subject to supervision by the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority pursuant to the Financial Market Supervision Act of 22 June 2007.
See also question 3.
12.2 How is 'social gambling' defined in your jurisdiction and how is it regulated (if at all)?
Social gambling takes place online but does not involve a direct monetary stake. Virtual currency takes the place of the monetary stake. The outcome of the game is perceived as random. Gaming on social media platforms, demo versions of commercial internet gambling and simulated gambling in video games (loot boxes) are the prevalent forms of social gambling.
Various online social games have gained popularity in the past. Although they are not directly addressed by the law, it is possible to classify them under Article 3 lit e of the Money Gaming Act (see question 3.2). The prerequisite for this is that the social game contains a quid pro quo and prizes. If this is the case, permission from the Inter-Cantonal Gaming Supervision is required.
13 Disputes and legal enforceability
13.1 Are gambling contracts enforceable as a matter of law?
Yes, claims arising from money gaming contracts are enforceable, but only if they are owed to a creditor that has a corresponding licence to conduct games.
13.2 In which forums are gambling disputes typically heard in your jurisdiction? What issues do such disputes typically involve?
For claims arising from gambling contracts, the ordinary civil cantonal courts are competent or, if certain conditions are met, a cantonal commercial court. Cantonal commercial courts exist in the cantons of Aargau, Berne, St Gallen and Zurich.
Claims arising from gambling contracts are assessed in Switzerland according to the ordinary rules on private law claims arising from receivables and not, for example, according to public law.
13.3 Have there been any recent cases of note?
The most notable recent decision in gambling law is a Federal Supreme Court ruling of May 2022 which found the blocking of foreign gambling websites to be lawful (see question 4.2).
14 Trends and predictions
14.1 How would you describe the current gambling landscape and prevailing trends in your jurisdiction? Are any new developments anticipated in the next 12 months, including any proposed legislative reforms?
As explained under question 13.2, social gambling is an emerging issue. This includes the controversially discussed e-sports such as FIFA and associated in-game purchases.
Cryptocurrencies could revolutionise the online gambling sector in the future and provide for more transparent and efficient financial exchange. However, it is still unclear whether and how cryptocurrencies will meet the currently strict security requirements.
As the relevant legal texts have only recently been formulated and introduced (1 January 2019), a fundamental change in the existing law is not expected anytime soon.
A new Anti-Money Laundering Act including implementing provisions is scheduled to enter into force on 1 January 2023 and the new Federal Data Protection Act is expected to enter into force in September 2023. Both will likely lead to selected changes in gambling law.
15 Tips and traps
15.1 What are your top tips for gambling operators in your jurisdiction and what potential sticking points would you highlight?
The markets for casino, poker and games of skill are not saturated. So far, there are 11 online casinos in Switzerland. Given the considerable potential of the Swiss gaming market and the interest of international business-to-business and business-to-consumer companies, the opportunities for new entrants are intact.
The Inter-Cantonal Gaming Supervision has so far only authorised a relatively small number of games of skill. There could still be potential here. The area of games of skill is attractive because licences are issued land-based and online under a relatively liberal licensing system and there is no gambling tax in this area.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.