Switzerland’s casinos say they’ve been losing money since 2007 and want to add sports betting and lottery options to help stop the slide.
This week saw the Swiss Federation of Casinos (SFC) release its annual report for 2015, which showed combined gaming revenue at the country’s 21 casinos fall 4.1% year-on-year to CHF 681m (US $689m). Only eight casinos reported positive traction in 2015, including the two leading casinos in Montreux and Zurich.
This marks the eighth straight year of year-on-year declines, and the annual haul has fallen by one-third since its 2007 peak. The SFC blames a host of suspects for the decline, including the global financial crisis and the weakness of the euro against the Swiss franc, which has reduced cross-border traffic from customers in neighboring countries, particularly Italy.
But the SFC also claims its members are losing around CHF 300m per year to illegal gambling clubs, casinos in other countries and those always pesky international online gambling operators. The SFC has therefore reissued its demands that the Swiss government make some changes to its proposed gambling laws.
Last fall, the Swiss government released draft legislation that would allow casinos to offer online versions of their slots and table games. But these changes won’t take effect until 2019 and the SFC is calling on the government to “urgently” implement IP-blocking of international online sites to stop them from “distorting” the local market.
The SFC also want the right to offer sports betting and lottery products, based on the SFC’s belief that only casinos are properly equipped to mitigate the potential social harms of such products. Finally, the SFC takes exception to the draft legislation’s plan to permit low-buy-in poker tournaments outside casinos, which the SFC views as an unwarranted attack on their existing monopoly.