Switzerland’s land-based gaming sector was hit with full force by the pandemic during the lockdown phases due to the closure of the casinos, with GGR down by 39 per cent or CHF250m to CHF452m.
This decrease in earnings resulted in a decrease in the amount of the casino tax paid by the casinos. In 2020, the casinos paid a total of CHF 198m in casino taxes for their terrestrial activities, which corresponds to a decrease in tax income of CHF159m compared to the previous year (down 44.6 per cent). Of this, CHF170m went to the AHV compensation fund (down 41.1 compared to 2019) and around CHF 28m (down 47.2 compared to 2019) to the cantons of casinos with a B license.
The seven casinos that offered online games achieved gross gaming revenue of CHF186.8m; this compared to the CHF23.5m that the four casinos that were operating at the time generated in 2019. The taxes on the online casino game amounted to CHF78m in 2020, which went to the AHV compensation fund (compared to CHF7.5m in 2019).
Overall, the casinos were able to generate tax revenues of CHF248m in 2020 in favor of the AHV compensation fund. This amount corresponds to a decrease of CHF64m compared to 2019 (down 20.46 per cent).
At its meeting on June 11, 2021, the Federal Council took note of the annual report of the Swiss Federal Gaming Board (ESBK) for 2020. The year under review was particularly marked by a significant increase in online casino activities. The income generated as a result was able to partially compensate for the losses that land-based casinos had to accept due to the Covid 19 pandemic.
In 2020, the Federal Council extended their license to three other casinos to include the right to offer online games. These are in addition to the six concession extensions granted in 2019. The range of online casino games is therefore increasing noticeably in Switzerland.
The increase in this new offering means that the casinos’ duties of care are also becoming more extensive. This concerns the protection of the population from the dangers emanating from gambling. The ESBK is aware that the social protection that the casinos must guarantee is a central element of the new gaming law. It has therefore focused its monitoring activities on this area. At the same time, it dealt with blocking access to offers that were not approved in Switzerland. In this context, the ESBK has taken note of the decision of the Federal Administrative Court on this issue with interest.