03 May 2022

Casino landscape: decisions of the Federal Council

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At its meeting on 27 April 2022, the Federal Council made fundamental decisions on the casino landscape in Switzerland from 2025.

At its meeting on 27 April 2022, the Federal Council made fundamental decisions on the casino landscape in Switzerland from 2025. At the end of 2024, all 21 casino licences granted to date will expire. With a view to the new tender process starting in May 2022, the Federal Council has decided to create two additional gaming zones in Lausanne and Winterthur. Otherwise, there are only selective adjustments. This article provides an overview of what the Federal Council's fundamental decisions are.

On 31 December 2024, the licences and licence extensions of the 21 Swiss casinos will expire. Against this background, the Swiss Federal Gaming Board (SFGB) has drawn up a report on the Swiss casino landscape for the attention of the Federal Council and submitted recommendations. The Federal Council made fundamental decisions on the basis of this report. In particular, it decided on the number and type of licences to be granted and the award procedure.

Like the Commission, the Federal Council is of the opinion that the licensing system does not need to be fundamentally reformed. "The casinos will continue to be distributed in a balanced manner across the interested regions," it says in a statement.

Number and type of concessions

The Federal Council has approved the division of the territory of Switzerland into 23 zones. 21 of these zones correspond to a region in which a casino is already located today. With Lausanne and Winterthur, two additional zones will be created for the granting of two new type A licences in order to better develop the existing market potential. Thus, within the 23 zones, an A-licence is to be granted at 10 locations. In addition, the Federal Council is to grant a maximum of 13 B licences. In casinos with a B licence, the maximum stake for slot machine games is limited to 25 francs. In casinos with an A licence, no such restrictions apply. In addition, the cantons in which B casinos are located may levy a cantonal tax on gross gaming revenue (excluding online gaming). This is not the case for the location cantons of A gaming houses.

The Federal Council has determined that a licence A should only be granted if the location to be chosen enables the applicant to generate gross gaming revenue of more than CHF 30 million annually with the land-based casino games offered. As a rule, this is the case if approximately 300,000 people reside in its catchment area within a driving distance of 30 minutes.

With regard to the type B licences, it was decided that the applicant should choose a location where it can generate gross gaming revenue of more than 10 million Swiss francs annually with the land-based casino games offered. This requirement is usually met if there are approximately 100,000 people residing within a 30-minute driving distance in the catchment area. However, an exception has been made: If the requirement of the number of inhabitants in the catchment area is not fulfilled, the applicant can claim that it meets the requirements for economic viability in another way, e.g. thanks to a high proportion of tourists among the visitors.

Concession award in open procedure

The Federal Council has decided to award the new licences in an open procedure: This means that all interested parties can apply for a licence. The SFGB is responsible for the licence award procedure. The tender procedure for the submission of licence applications will be launched in May 2022. The Federal Council is expected to decide on the award of the licences in autumn 2023. This decision is not subject to appeal.

Our team of gaming and entertainment experts will be happy to assist you with any clarifications. Further important information on this topic can be found in the Federal Council’s media release.

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