Online gambling in Switzerland

Prior to 1993 casinos and casino gambling in Switzerland were constitutionally prohibited but this was changed with a referendum in that year which saw a majority of Swiss voters endorse the necessary changes to pave the way for legal casinos. Following the required amendments to the Swiss Federal Constitution, legislation allowing for the operation of casinos was enacted in 2000 (Federal Act on Casinos) and a number of casinos were issued licenses and opened their doors to gamblers.

Licenses issued under the legislation’s associated regulations do not allow operators to offer ‘games of chance’ on the Internet and consequently Swiss residents are currently unable to play games like blackjack, roulette or baccarat online with locally licensed/based operators. But this situation has only seen foreign operators fill the void and tap the demand that clearly exists.

Now, the government has announced plans to liberalise the Swiss market and offer online gambling licenses. As at May 2010, the Justice Ministry maintained that it planned to draft a proposal which, subject to Parliamentary approval, would grant a limited number of licenses to approved operators. The plans are said to be primarily motivated by intent to curb the growing ‘black’ online gambling market, as well as raise tax revenues, estimated to be in the order of SFr 26 million annually.

Apparently European Commission pressure to follow EU Treaty services guidelines is not the driving force behind the proposed changes, but regardless of the reason, it seems likely that Swiss players will very soon have locally licensed online casino options to choose from. In the meantime, online casinos licensed in other EU Member states continue to do business with Swiss players.

[Update August 2014]

In May 2014, the Swiss Federal Government published the first draft of a new bill allowing for regulated online gambling. If passed, the bill would enable land-based casinos in Switzerland to use their licences to also operate an internet gambling service. The draft was open for consultation until 20 August 2014, and in August received the support of the Cantonal Directors in Charge of Gambling and Lotteries (CDCM). The CDCM also voiced its general support for the regulation of the country’s online gambling market.

[Update October 2015]

On 21 October a Bill was introduced into Swiss parliament which, if passed, would allow Switzerland’s 21 land based casinos to offer games online.

Best live casino for Swiss players

The below casinos all have live dealers, welcome players from Switzerland and offer EUR and/or Swiss franc (CHF) account options.

Live casinos for Swiss players
Casinos
Players from your location accepted
Player access
Deposits accepted and/or can maintain account in local currency
Banking
Toll free numbers from your country
Toll free support
local language site/support capabilities
Local language
games regionally focused
Games

Bet365

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No restrictions on Swiss player sign
-ups
No deposit restrictions.
Maintain account in francs (CHF) or Euro
Yes Deutsche Euro and Asian based dealer studios

UNIBET

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No restrictions on sign -ups from Switzerland No deposit restrictions.
Maintain account in francs (CHF) or Euro
Yes Deutsche, Français European based dealer room with Euro centric games.

888 Casino

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No restrictions on sign -ups from Switzerland No deposit restrictions.
Maintain account in Euro
Yes Deutsche, Français European based dealer room with Euro centric games

WilliamHill Casino
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No restrictions on sign -ups from Switzerland No deposit restrictions.
Maintain account in EURO
No Français European based dealer room with Euro centric games