PokerStars recently announced the decision to withdraw from the gambling market in Switzerland. This withdrawal is temporary and was done to appease lawmakers. Gambling regulations in Switzerland now decree that international operators need licenses to offer their products within their market.
The gambling industry in past years has thrived and flourished because of the previous lack of control mechanisms in place regarding the free reign of working without a license. This has changed as can be seen with the struggle that PokerStars is having to endure to enter the Swiss market.
The Money Gaming Act
Back in 2018, a law was passed addressing the lack of control over the operation of foreign gambling companies within Switzerland. With effect from the first of July, the law dictates that all international operators still interested in offering services within their gambling market. The requirement for entering the market is having a partnership with one of the local real-world casinos before being considered for a license to participate in the Swiss gambling market.
Until today, Switzerland has so far issued four iGaming licenses. The areas that these licenses have been issued in include Baden, Pfaffikon, Davos, and Lucerne. All of these were collectively activated on July 1st. A warning was additionally issued warning off any illegal operators. If a company is found guilty of this, their internet accounts will be blocked, and any individuals found breaking the rules will be blacklisted and may even face criminal charges.
This all means one thing: that the Swiss market has been closed off and is no longer one of the easier ones to enter and do business in. Any existing operations within the country by foreign gambling enterprises will be halted until they form partnerships with local casinos and receive licenses.
PokerStars attempted to hang on; however, in the end, they could not secure a partnership with a local casino. They decided to put their plans to enter the market on hold.
Playtec, on the other hand, is a company that has managed to arrange a partnership with Casino Pfäffikon. The others include Casino Davos which PokerStars is rumored to have their eye on and Casino Baden, which Evolution Gaming has a deal with. Once the deal between PokerStars and the Casino Davos then they will be able to once again do business in Switzerland.
Besides PokerStars, another renowned casino operator has since pulled out of the Swiss market. William Hill, a UK bookmaker, has been forced to leave their position within the Swiss market, rather late in the game, to the displeasure of their loyal patrons.
This increase in entry requirements may prove to be good for the Swiss market regarding keeping up the caliber of operators allowed in, as well as ensuring that no corners are cut and everything is by the book. However, regarding prospective foreign operators, there are only so many casinos within Switzerland. Competition is good for the market, but it seems that there isn’t enough room in the Swiss market. PokerStars next move remains to be seen. However, they will be back – that’s for sure.
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