“Lack of money”? So it is really about the finances of Swiss casinos

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June 10, 2019 5:05 am

The campaign for the gambling law suggests that the Swiss casinos run out of money. However, several casinos have recently increased their sales. Spending on lottery and betting has even reached a new record high.

Playground: Lost. Animal enclosure: Closed. Concert: Canceled. Proponents of the gambling law advertise with these slogans. Their message is clear: if the voters sink the code on the urn on June 10, it will harm the cultural and sports institutions in the country. Also, the AHV would have to get along in the case with fewer funds, so the committee.

Whether the gloomy forecasts can be backed up with facts, is on closer inspection, however, questionable. Today, casinos and lotteries pay nearly CHF 1 billion a year to the AHV, the IV, nonprofit organizations, and the location cantons. The proponents of the new law argue that Swiss casinos are increasingly losing guests to foreign online providers. As a result, sales in Switzerland would collapse, and with them, taxes in favor of the common good.

Lotteries increased 8 percent.

However, a look at the numbers suggests that the gambling industry in the country is not doing as poorly as the campaign indicates. For 2016, Swiss casinos reported gross gaming revenues of 689 million Swiss francs, an increase of 1.2 percent over the previous year. The lottery and bookmakers could not complain in 2016 about serbelnde sales. They converted CHF 2.89 billion. That’s not just a whopping 8 percent more than last year – it’s a new record!

For the past year is still no comprehensive statistics. The Swiss Casino Association is still awaiting publication of the 2017 Annual Report – unlike in previous years when it published the report in the spring.

Baden, Zurich, and Lucerne increased.

Research shows: At least in certain casinos, and the ruble rolled cheerfully last year. For the first time in five years, Grand Casino Baden recorded an increase in sales in 2017. The number of visitors increased by 4.4 percent to 346,000 people.

The casinos Zurich, Schaffhausen, St.Gallen, and Pfäffikon also increased their gross gaming revenue – the difference between the stakes and the profits paid – to a total of 141.7 million last year, as the parent company Swiss Casinos writes on request from Watson. They were thus almost 5 million francs more than in the year before, compared to the year 2015, the increase is even close to eight million francs.

The Grand Casino Lucerne 2017 was also able to record a “further increase in profits,” as stated in the annual report. Gross gaming revenue grew by 2.5 percent. The fact that such a good result was possible despite the migration of guests to illegal online casinos was due to the “consistent focus on an innovative gaming and entertainment offer,” according to those responsible.

Meanwhile, the Grand Casinos Basel (-1.2%) and Bern (-4%) suffered a decline in sales.

“The proponents make a pure fear campaign that has little to do with reality.”

Pascal Vuichard, Co-President JNLP

For Pascal Vuichard, who fights the gambling law on the front line, the numbers show one thing above all: “The proponents make a pure fear campaign that has little to do with reality.” It was questionable, as the casino lobby, the argument of the sport – and to promote culture to defend their benefices, according to the co-president of the Young Green Liberals.

Beat Vonlanthen, CVP Member of the Canton of Friborg and President of the Swiss Casino Association disagrees. The casinos’ contributions to the AHV and the cantons have already plummeted – since 2007 by more than 40 percent. “AHV and cantons receive around 220 million francs less per year.”

“Without regulation of this area, the levies on AHV / IV, sports and culture from online games will collapse more and more.”
Beat Vonlanthen (CVP), President of the Casino Association

In fact, the gross gaming revenue of Swiss casinos in the peak year of 2007 was 908.8 million Swiss francs, which is almost a third higher than today. Vonlanthen cannot say why sales have recently recovered. “We assume that 2016 growth was an exception and that the negative trend will continue.”

Every year 250 million Swiss francs flow from Switzerland to illegal foreign online casinos, according to Vonlanthen. “With the increasing digitization, this share is likely to grow.” There could, therefore, be no question of a fear campaign. “Without regulation of this area, the levies on AHV / IV, sports and culture from online games will break more and more.” The gambling law will reverse this harmful trend “and stop the unspeakable outflow abroad.”

The lottery companies feel the competition from the network meanwhile hardly. For lottery and classic lottery games, foreign providers play virtually no role. This in contrast to the sports betting – but contribute relatively little to total sales. “The influence of foreign providers differs from business to business in the lotteries,” says Willy Mesmer, spokesman for Swisslos. “Network operators would benefit from the domestic legal providers in sports betting.”

The network locks are the most controversial element of the gambling law. They are intended to discourage Swiss users from gambling with foreign online providers. Against the law, an alliance of new parties and various organizations has taken the referendum. Meanwhile, the FDP, the BDP, the GLP and the Greens have decided the no-slogan. The SP and the CVP support the law. The SVP has agreed to vote.

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