Switzerland’s New Online-Gambling Framework Remakes Country’s Online Scene
With Switzerland’s new regulatory framework for online gambling now in effect, the country’s digital gambling scene is undergoing a quick makeover that will likely result in a significant reduction in the number of reputable brands and site available to Swiss punters.
Last June, Switzerland’s citizens approved by a large majority a referendum banning foreign operators offering online services to Swiss residents, while restricting that space only for the country’s live-casino operators who are in turn licensed by the country’s new online-gambling regime. Since tiny Switzerland, home to about 8.4 million, has 21 brick-and-mortar casinos, but only four of them have been authorized to operate online gambling under the new rules. Therefore, the change essentially creates a shared monopoly for these casinos and their software partners.
Several of the online operators pulling up their edelweiss-scented stakes included GVC and its partypoker and bwin brands, William Hill, NetEnt and its entire family of casino sites, and many, many more. PokerStars, the world’s largest online poker site, was also among the online operators to leave, though in Stars’ case, the exit will only be temporary, as it plans a formal return as the software partner for Casino Davos, pending regulatory approval
Casino Davos, Grand Casino Baden, Grand Casino Luzern, and Casino Pfäffikon are the four casinos already approved, and all four, if one counts the pending Casino Davos / The Stars Group tie-up, have already formed online partnerships.
Software giant Playtech has previously announced its partnerhip with Casino Pfäffikon, and Grand Casino Baden has been reported as linking up with Evolution Gaming. Grand Casino Luzern (Lucerne) will operate an in-house site, mycasino.ch, to be powered by Paf’s online software.
PokerStars having temporarily removed access to its site for Swiss players is an interesting development, and though one might expect that the country might end up being ring-fenced like Western European neighbors France, Italy, Spain and Portugal, the plans are for Swiss players to have renewed access to Stars’ dot-com global offering once the partnership with Casino Davos is approved.
Speaking to an affiliate site, a Stars spokesman offered the following:
“We are currently working with our Swiss gaming partner who is responsible for arranging the necessary approvals with the authorities in order to provide licensed poker for Swiss residents. As soon as our local partner obtains the necessary approvals, players will need to upgrade to new software, which will offer the opportunity to play with the same players in the same games that were enjoyed on the old software.”