As regards land based casinos, Switzerland has one of the highest ratios of casinos to population in the world. There are nineteen land based casinos in the country and two more are planned. However, internet gambling is still illegal in Switzerland. Fifteen years ago Swiss federal laws banned the deployment of electronic networks and telecommunications “particularly the internet” for use in games of chance.
Since then there have been moves to alter this situation and four years ago the Federal Gaming Board recommended that internet gambling should be liberalised and that the area of online gambling should be regulated to help prevent illegal online casinos having access to Swiss players.Recently the Swiss Federal government stated that it would regulate online gambling in the country. The federal authorities are drafting a bill to put in place guidelines like those that regulate land based casinos in Switzerland. By liberalising the online gaming market in Switzerland and regulating online casinos the Swiss Federal council hopes to protect Swiss players from unregulated online casinos operating from outside the country. As the situation stands, Swiss gamblers can register and play in online casinos based in other countries and as consumers they have no protection in these casinos. In order to block unregulated online casino operators the Swiss Federal council plans to use technical means to prevent them offering their services to Swiss players.
Since the bill dealing with the regulation of online gambling is only at the draft stage, it is not yet known if the authorities will only grant licences to operators already running land based casinos in the country or if provision will be made to allow foreign operators to enter the Swiss online market. Since Switzerland does not belong to the European Union it has more freedom than other European countries belonging to the Union to set regulations in place to oversee the online gambling market in the country whenever internet gaming becomes legal. The general idea behind the regulation of online gambling is that firstly the operators will pay taxes and the federal government will benefit, also Swiss gamblers will have protection on licensed online casinos and the question of problem gambling will be dealt with.