Switzerland’s first four online casinos could be launched a year after Swiss voters backed the nation’s new gambling law
Switzerland’s first online casinos under the country’s new gambling regulatory regime are expected to go live in July after a first-batch of license applications has been submitted with the Federal Gaming Board (Eidgenössische Spielbankenkommission, ESBK).
Local news outlet Tages-Anzeiger reported earlier this week that Grand Casino Baden, Casino Davos, Grand Casino Luzern, and Swiss Casinos’ Casino Pfäffikon have cleared their first step toward obtaining the necessary permit to run online casinos along with their brick-and-mortar operations.
Aside from the ESBK, the Federal Council will need to review the four petitions. It is expected to announce its decision on whether the four land-based casinos should be allowed to proceed with the launch of their digital operations by the end of June.
If the Federal Council greenlights the gambling venues’ applications, they will be able to go live with online gambling as early as July 1. However, the four applicants will also need to have all the games they are planning to offer to online customers certified by the ESBK. That process, too, is expected to be completed by mid-2019.
The Four Applicants
Two of the applications have come from casino operator Stadtcasino Baden-Gruppe. The company owns Grand Casino Baden and holds a nearly 46% stake in Casino Davos. Kursaal-Casino AG Luzern is the company behind Grand Casino Luzern, while private casino operator Swiss Casinos Gruppe is the owner of Casino Pfäffikon.
As many as 21 operators of land-based casinos can apply for an online casino license. However, if the first four applications get the necessary approval, the winning applicants will be able to launch their online gambling operations by mid-2019 and thus gain important competitive advantage in the newly regulated market.
It should also be noted that the Baden casino has already secured important advantage as it operates a free-to-play online casino that already has more than 15,000 registered players.
As mentioned earlier, Switzerland’s new gambling law (Geldspielgesetz) took effect on January 1, 2019 after a majority of voters approved the proposed reorganization of the local market last summer. Under the new law, only the nation’s land-based casinos can run online gambling operations. Foreign companies can only secure presence in the local market through a partnership with one of the local brick-and-mortar venues.
While the new rules came into effect on January 1, regulators target July 1 (or around that date) launch of first regulated online casino operations. The beginning of July is also when a set of regulations aimed at curbing illegal operations will take effect.
Under those regulations, local Internet service providers will be expected to block all unauthorized online gambling domains that target Swiss gamblers.
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