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Betting in Switzerland

Published on: 08/08/2016

Switzerland is a land-locked country within Europe. Gambling activity was made illegal in 1921. The ban remained in place until 1993 - thereafter, Switzerland gradually became more liberal in its attitude towards gambling activities.

The Swiss Federal Constitution arranges the nations gambling activities into two separate categories. The first category is lotteries and betting products, with the second category being casinos and games of chance. In 1998, the Federal Act on Games of Chance and Casinos was formed, which paved the way for gambling activities to be licenced, and therefore legal.

Casinos initially placed a maximum outlay amount on wagering. Eventually, the Federal Law on Games of Chance and Casinos allowed bets of any amount to be placed, leading to the acceleration of the nations gambling industry.

Currently, Switzerland has approximately 20 fully-equipped gaming halls, all of which fall under the supervision of the Swiss Casino Commission. The venues provide a variety of gambling opportunities, from pari-mutuel betting and games machines, to card rooms and table games. Throughout the nation there are also 11 horseracing tracks. However, each region is only allowed to facilitate one of each venue type.

The Swiss cities of Basel and Luzern are home to some of the country’s biggest casinos. In the Capital city of Bern, the Grand Casino Bern is open from noon until the early hours of the morning each day. The facility is large enough to house 15 poker and table games as well as over 250 slot machines. The minimum age to wager is 20 years old.

National Lotteries are illegal in Switzerland. However, the Federal Act on Lotteries and Professional Betting have allowed the nations 26 member states to create their own gambling and lottery services, under the guidance of the Federal Office for Justice. This has caused two of Switzerland’s largest lottery organisations to become more successful, which has in turn, benefitted public programs and helped to fund government studies.

Established in 2003, Swisslos is a Sport Toto operator located in Basel. They were formed by an amalgamation of three older lottery companies (SEVA Lotteriegenossenschaft, Interkantonale Landeslotterie and Sport Toto-Gesellschaft). Another company, known as the Société de la Loterie de la Suisse Romande (Loterie Romande), was formed in 1937, and offers lotteries for Geneva, Cantons of Vaud, Fribourg, Jura, Neuchâtel and Valais.

In 2004, Swisslos and Loterie Romande both became members of the Euro millions. The Euro millions is the largest lottery organization in the world, and so far nine countries have signed up. Swisslos have introduced a sports betting service to attract business from the member states. Loterie Romande provides pari-mutuel wagering on horseracing, in Swiss locations where French is widely spoken. Currently, all forms of internet gambling are against the law in Switzerland. This extends to the promotion of internet gambling, in any format.

Nevertheless, there are no regulations in place to prohibit the Swiss locals from visiting off-shore betting web sites. Over 450 foreign online sportsbooks welcome play from Switzerland including William Hill, Bet365, Paddy Power, Ladbrokes and Betfred.