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How to Open a Betting Agency in Switzerland

How to Open a Betting Agency in Switzerland

With a population of more than 8 million citizens, Switzerland has more than 1,5 million active players, who gamble on games such as: horse races, sports betting, casino, lottery or poker games. Investors who are considering opening a company in Switzerland as a betting agency must know that the legislation in the field was recently modified, as a consequence of a new legislative proposal established in 2017, but also due to the referendum carried out in 2018 on this subject. 

Up until the end of 2018, the Swiss legislation distinguished between two main types of gambling activities – gambling activities developed in casinos and betting/lotteries gaming. Following the modification of the law, both types of activities are now regulated under the same legislation – the Money Gaming Act. The new rule of law is applicable starting with 1st of January 2019 and our team of consultants in company registration in Switzerland can provide an extensive presentation on the main obligations available for local betting agencies

How can a Swiss betting agency obtain a license? 

When starting the procedure of company formation in Switzerland for a betting agency, one of the legal requirements that have to be accomplished by all operators in the field is to obtain a business license or permit. Under the new rule of law, there are three types of licenses issued to gaming and betting operators

In the case of a betting agency in Switzerland, the company must apply for lottery and betting licenses, which are prescribed for both brick-and-mortar and online businesses. The activity of betting agencies is also regulated, besides the Money Gaming Act, by the Swiss Lottery Act. Under the regulations of this act, betting operators have to apply for a license according to the cantonal laws where the companies are registered. 

Provided that the betting agency is registered as a small business, a cantonal license will be sufficient for the development of the activity in a legal manner. However, in order to obtain a cantonal license, the company must develop its operations only in the canton where it is incorporated.

In the case in which it has set up its activities in more Swiss cantons, the company can no longer qualify for this type of license; our team of specialists in company registration in Switzerland can offer an extensive presentation on the licensing requirements. 

Who grants a license to Swiss betting agencies? 

As presented earlier, a Swiss betting agency is legally required to apply for a specific type of license. In the case of Swiss businesses operating as lottery or betting agencies, the main institution which issues the license is the Swiss Lottery and Betting Board (Comlot); the institution has a national jurisdiction and it has the following functions: 

  • • it was established in 2006 with the purpose of granting licenses to betting agencies;
  • • it also has the purpose of supervising the activity of lottery and betting businesses;
  • • the institution analyzes the application documents and based on such documents, will issue a license or not; 
  • • provided that the institution did not grant the issuance of the license, the applicants can appeal the case at the Appeals Commission;
  • • even in the case in which the institution granted the right to develop specific lottery and betting activities, certain types of activities can be revoked at a cantonal level. 

What is the level of investments in Switzerland? 

Due to a an attractive business climate and economic stability, Switzerland is a sought destination for foreign investments. Some of the most common economic fields in which foreign businessmen prefer to invest are the financial sector, insurance, banking, electronics, watchmaking industry, the energy field and chemicals. Some relevant information regarding the investment environment available in this country are presented below: 

  • • at the level of 2017, the value of the foreign direct investment (FDI) inflow stood at $40,986 million; 
  • • this marked an increase compared to the previous year, when the FDI had a total value of $48,314;
  • Switzerland marked an increase in the number of green investments in 2017, reaching 137; 
  • • In 2016, the country had a total of 126 green investments;
  • • the country’s main investor (at the level of 2017) was the Netherlands, accounting for 28,5% of the total level of foreign investments. 

Can a license be revoked from a Swiss betting agency? 

Yes, a Swiss betting agency can lose the license it obtained in Switzerland, in the case in which it does not respect the legislation in the field. Any company incorporated in Switzerland that offers casino, betting and lottery services can have its license withdrawn; such businesses can also be fined with a fine that has a value of up to CHF 500,000 and the company’s representatives can be sentenced to prison. 

It is necessary to know that in the case of a Swiss based betting agency the only legislation that can be applied to enforcement cases it the legislation available in Switzerland, since the country is not a member state of the European Union (EU). 

The main enforcement authority that is authorized to prosecute an illegal betting activity is established at a cantonal level. Comlot can only report the case to a criminal prosecutor, provided that it had discovered illicit betting activities. It is important to know that, besides the fine and the withdrawal of the license, the company can also have its assets confiscated (but only those that are obtained through illegal betting). Businessmen are invited to contact our team of consultants in Swiss company formation for more information on the new legislation regulating betting activities in this country.