Federal Office of Justice

Legal guidelines of games of chance in Switzerland

Gaming for money has a constitutional basis in Article 106 of the Swiss Federal Constitution. This divides the market into the casino (games of chance) sector on the one hand and the lottery and betting sector on the other. The former is governed by the Federal Games of Chance and Casinos Act of 18 June 1998 (GCA), the latter by the Federal Lotteries and Commercial Betting Act of 8 June 1923 (LBA).

Legislative competence for the entire gaming sector lies with the Confederation. Primary executive authority in respect of lotteries and betting is vested in the Lotteries and Betting Section of the Federal Office of Justice, while casinos are overseen in the main by the Swiss Casino Commission. This body is also responsible for enforcing the Casino Act and its executive decrees.

The Lotteries and Betting Act is enforced chiefly by the cantons. The Lotteries and Betting Section oversees enforcement, evaluates and reviews a sample of (cantonal) judgements, submits opinions to the courts and the authorities and answers a wide variety of enquiries from others authorities and the public. It also produces annual lottery statistics for Switzerland.

Federal Lotteries and Commercial Betting Act

The LBA of 1923 governs two particular aspects of games of chance, namely lotteries and betting. A third lottery segment, known as mixed lotteries or premium bonds, has not been offered for almost 40 years. There is also a section entitled "Lottery-like undertakings" which governs – at secondary legislation level – the special areas of snowball systems and public competitions and prize draws.

Legal basis

Revision of the Federal Lotteries and Commercial Betting Act
Although the LBA is a good law in its basic premise (the best proof thereof being the fact that its wording has not changed since 1923), there are many areas in which it may not have kept pace with modern developments. Furthermore, it may not offer contemporary solutions to a variety of problems.