First Swiss online casinos gain licences

Acquiescence of licences clears a path for the launch of digital gambling under new Swiss law

The Swiss Federal Council has given the go ahead to the first four online casino licence applications submitted to the ESBK. The request was submitted to the Gaming Board (Eidgenössische Spielbankenkommission, ESBK), and gained approval in April, before clearing a final hurdle this month with the Federal Council.

The online casinos which will now launch in July are Grand Casino Baden, Casino Davos, Grand Casino Luzern, and Casino Pfäffikon, they must however wait for regulatory approval for their gaming software, a decision on which is due at the end of the month. The acquisence from the Council will likely clear a path for the launch of digital gambling under Switzerland's new gambling law - Geldspielgesetz.

Commenting on the upcoming launch, Wolfgang Bliem, CEO of Grand Casino Luzern Group, said that they “see the online casino market as an additional andimportant sales channel for the casino, the core business of our company.”

Swiss legislators approved the country’s new Gambling Act last year. The legislation also gained support from voters during a referendum that took place last summer. The Gambling Act took effect on January 1, 2019. Under its provisions, only Switzerland’s land-based casinos can apply for and be authorised to run online gambling operations.

As for international companies, they can be legally present in the local market if they form partnerships with the nation’s land-based casino operators, with venues expected to go live with digital gaming on July 1, the exact same date on which another important and controversial part of the new law is slated to be enforced. The provision is considered restrictive because it obliges local Internet service providers to block all unlicensed online gambling domains that target Swiss gamblers.

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