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Gambling bans spike in Switzerland

Man betting online via tablet.
In Switzerland, casinos, physical or online, generate an annual turnover of CHF650 million ($698 million). Residents also spend nearly CHF1 billion on lottery cards and betting on sports. Keystone / Obs/grand Casino Luzern Ag/(c) G

The number of gamblers banned from Swiss casinos rose sharply last year to over 10,000, driven by the growth in online gambling sites, the Swiss newspaper NZZ am Sonntag has reported.

At the end of last year, a total of 72,322 people were banned from playing at Swiss casinos – in person and online – according to new statistics from the Federal Gambling Commission (CFMJ)External link, published in the NZZ am Sonntag. This represents an increase of 10,870 people compared with 2019, when the number rose by 4,836.

The opening of three new online gambling sites last year, and two additional venues in 2021, contributed to this increase, said Federal Gambling Commission spokesperson Marjorie Perusset.

The steep rise is mainly due to new online casino players who do not frequent physical establishments, she said.

Perusset added that it was still too early to say whether the Covid pandemic has had an impact on gambling behaviour. Licenced casinos began fully operating online services in 2020.

The Gambling Commission insists that the large number of bans is proof that preventive measures are working and are being implemented.

In the light of the recent increase, the non-governmental organisation Addiction Suisse has called for restrictions on gambling advertising and the creation of an expert group to advise the authorities and establishments.

In Switzerland, casinos, physical or online, generate an annual turnover of CHF650 million ($698 million). Residents also spend nearly CHF1 billion on lottery cards and betting on sports, said NZZ am Sonntag.

Under Swiss law, a casino must issue a gambling ban if it knows a player is in debt or unable to meet their financial obligations. This rule also applies if the person gambles large amounts of money when compared to their monthly income and fortune.

A casino can also issue a ban if they receive a report from a specialised body or social affairs authority indicating a person’s gambling addiction. Players can also decide whether they want to be banned. Casinos and establishments that impose bans must keep a register of those affected.

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