Switzerland is famed for its jaw-dropping landscapes, quality watches and premium chocolates. However, when looking at things from a sports perspective, this nation gave the world names like Roger Federer, Stan Wawrinka, Xherdan Shaqiri or Granit Xhaka, among many others. Add some of the world’s highest wages to the mix and you get the perfect environment for online betting. Betting sites in Switzerland enjoyed a very relaxing treatment from the authorities until recently when a referendum was needed to decide the future of online betting in the country. The Swiss Federal Gaming Board handles all aspects related to betting and gambling and after the gambling laws were changed in January 2019, the only betting sites Suisse allowed to operate in the country are the one with actual offices registered in Switzerland.
Historically, all forms of gambling were banned in Switzerland starting in 1921. For such a liberal and neutral country, the ban lasted for an impressively long period as it wasn’t until 1993 that new laws were passed regarding gambling. Even then, it was only low-stakes casinos that were allowed to operate. However, after 1993 betting and gambling evolved freely in the country and when the internet revolution hit, Switzerland became one of the best markets for all the big names in the industry.
Such a wealthy nation with no restrictions in place for either bookies or punters meant that the betting sites available in Switzerland boomed. However, all that money switching hands quickly draw the attention from the authorities. So, using punters’ protection as an excuse, the government started targeting betting sites in Switzerland and came to the conclusion that around CHF 260 million were lost in potential taxes.
It took the authorities an incredibly short time to come up with new gambling laws, however, the controversy about the possible side effects of a new law lead to calls for a referendum to see if such a law was wanted or not. The referendum took place on June 2018 and an overwhelming 73% of voters agreed with tighter laws for online betting and gambling.
The main question you might have now should be: is sports betting legal in Switzerland after the new laws were passed? The short answer is yes. However, these new regulations mean that Swiss punters will only be able to access online betting sites that have an office inside the country, while online bookies that are not licensed will be blocked by ISPs. Monthly blacklists are already issued by the Lotteries and Betting Commission as well as the Federal Gaming Commission and the ISPs have no choice but to block the websites on those lists.
So, to be able to operate in the country, the big names of the industry need to come up with strategic partnerships with local companies. Things are very similar to what’s happening in some states inside the United States.
Even though the new laws meant a lot of operators had to temporarily withdraw from the market, this doesn’t mean Swiss punters lowered their standards. After being able to pick from the very best online bookmakers, it’s going to take the same level of quality to spark interest. So, bookmakers Suisse will need to step up their game when it comes to high odds, fast payouts and CHF currency at least. A wide offer of football, tennis and cycling bets is also a good way to stand out of the crowd and make your brand appealing to Swiss punters. Of course, any localization effort is also going to be rewarded so adding Italian, French and German to the website and customer support is recommended to bookmakers Switzerland.
Despite some concerns that the new gambling law is censoring the internet by not allowing Swiss citizens to access foreign websites anymore, the authorities were not moved at all. As a result, many of the reputable online betting sites in Switzerland that were active before the new legislation, withdrew from the country to keep their names clear of any controversy in a hope that they will be able to land a partnership with a local company. A list of online bookmakers delivering their services to Swiss punters is being published monthly and all the names on these lists are instantly ISP blocked in the country. However, the best online betting sites in Switzerland can still be accessed with the use of a VPN service and a versatile payment method such as an ewallet.
Speaking of payment options, sites and betting apps in Switzerland do not come with any restrictions in terms of online transactions. Even if you’re trying to deposit at a bookmaker that doesn’t hold a license, the chances of getting your transaction blocked are slim. So, you can make use of all the popular payment options such as Visa, MasterCard, Neteller, Skrill or Trustly to successfully deposit at your favourite online bookmakers. While there are no restrictions when it comes to payment options, you should be aware of the 35% tax imposed by the authorities to all betting wins of over CHF 1,000.
None of the big betting exchanges announced they are planning a partnership with local companies to deliver their services to Swiss punters. This means you will only be able to access popular exchanges like Betfair, Smarket or Betdaq with a VPN if you want to enjoy the advantages of being able to lay or back a vast majority of bets and enjoy even higher odds than what bookmakers would offer.
If you’re playing at one of the licensed online bookmakers in the country, the Swiss Federal Gaming Board is the authority to contact in case you wish to file a complaint. Otherwise, if you’re enjoying the services of bookmakers licensed by the MGA or UKGC, getting in touch with the regulatory authority directly is the way to go. Of course, we are here to help you with any betting-related matter you encounter so make sure to drop us a message with your issue and we’ll do our best to contact the bookie on your behalf.