Switzerland has officially issued its first online gambling licenses to four local casino operators and their online technology partners.
On Friday, Switzerland’s Federal Council rubber-stamped their approval of four casinos’ online gambling permits. The permits were previously approved by the Federal Gaming Commission (ESBK) ahead of the July 1 launch of the country’s regulated online market.
The four casinos so honored were the Grand Casino Baden and its sister venue Grand Casino Davos, as well as Grand Casino Lucerne and the Swiss Casinos group’s Pfäffikon venue.
Grand Casino Baden will launch online under its Jackpots.ch brand, which has for years operated as a free-play site. The Davos venue has a deal with Belgium’s Ardent Group and will operate under that company’s Casino777 brand. The Pfäffikon venue has a deal with Playtech while the Lucerne casino will operate under its own mycasino brand.
There are still some hurdles before these first four licensees can launch their online operations, as the ESBK must certify the software of each operator’s respective online games.
Switzerland’s new gambling legislation technically took effect on January 1 but the country’s internet service providers won’t start blocking internationally licensed gambling sites until July 1. (For the record, the ISPs aren’t too happy about being forced to perform extra work without the state kicking in some francs to cover their costs.)
There are 21 licensed casinos in Switzerland, some of which are still awaiting their own license approval, while others are taking a wait-and-see approach. This latter strategy is folly, according to Grand Casino Baden CFO Marcel Tobler, who told attendees at this week’s Gaming in Holland conference that operators who pass up this “once in a lifetime opportunity” would regret not staking out an early claim for the loyalties of Switzerland’s online gamblers.