Online gambling law and regulation in Switzerland

Is online gambling permitted?Yes1
Licence available for…BettingYes2
Card GamesYes1
  1. With effect from 1 January 2019, Switzerland’s new Federal Act on Money Games (“AMG”) entered into force. The AMG applies to all kinds of online real money games, including variations of betting, skill games and card games. Under the AMG, online gambling is permitted, however the organiser must obtain a Swiss licence. Online casino licences will be available only to existing Swiss land-based casino operators for the first six years after the entry into force of the AMG (2019 to 2024). Thereafter, there will be a new call for tenders for the limited number of licences. Anyone can apply, including providers from abroad. They can do this via a subsidiary domiciled in Switzerland or via the participation in a Swiss casino operator. The AMG provides for the further requirements of good reputation, proper business conduct, independent management and sufficient funds of legitimate origin. It remains to be seen how the law will be applied by the Swiss authorities.
  2. According to the AMG, online lotteries, online sports betting and online skill games are large-scale games for which a permit of the so called Gespa (Swiss Gambling Supervisory Authority) is mandatory. As regards lotteries and sports betting, the number of permits is limited. Currently, they may be legally operated in Switzerland only by the two existing licensed Swiss operators Swisslos and Lotterie Romande; additional licences are not available. Betting other than sport betting is only permissible if the specific betting qualifies as a casino game i.e. not more than 1000 players can participate, and the organiser must be in possession of a Swiss casino licence. In a decision dated 18 May 2022, the Federal Supreme Court approved network bans of foreign unauthorized online gambling sites as legally compliant and proportionate.

    Games of skill as well as lotteries are exempted from the AMG and thus from the licence requirement if they (i) are carried out for a short period of time in order to promote sales, (ii) do not pose a risk of excessive money gambling, and if (iii) participation is possible either at no charge or by purchasing goods or services at prices that are in line with the market prices.

    To ensure compliance with Swiss law (especially regarding the protection of players and the payment of levies) an international provider who is interested in an online presence in Switzerland has either to establish a Swiss subsidiary or to partner with a Swiss licensee. In addition to all other requirements, foreign providers have to show that they have not actively targeted Swiss players from abroad in the past five years (requirement of “good reputation”). The access to online games of foreign providers without a proper licence will – if necessary - be blocked with measures to be implemented by internet access providers (geo blocking).

Last updated: April 2023

Portrait ofSimone Brauchbar Birkhäuser, LL.M.
Dr Simone Brauchbar Birkhäuser, LL.M.