Are poker clubs legal

«Massively disappointed»: Poker tournaments will soon be legal again - players dissatisfied


With the new gaming law, small poker tournaments will be legal again - subject to certain conditions. These are harshly criticized by poker fans.

1 / 5

Small amount poker tournaments in poker clubs may soon be allowed again. The new gambling law, which is currently being dealt with in parliament, provides for such tournaments to be legalized subject to certain conditions (see box). But instead of bursting into jubilation, the poker scene sharply criticized the draft law.

According to Marc Horisberger, President of the Association of Poker Game Providers, there will be no poker tournaments even after legalization under the conditions provided. "If, on the one hand, the number of tournaments is limited and, on the other hand, audits of thousands of francs are required, it is not possible for any club to offer an attractive tournament whose income covers rent and wages."

Regulations are not practicable

SVP National Councilor Lukas Reimann is “immensely disappointed” with the design of the law: “It is impractical for a small club to do accounting like a stock corporation.” This would choke off a potentially lucrative branch of the economy: “We have to keep these jobs and income in Switzerland. In the boom years, these poker clubs offered many jobs for students. "

Sascha Crescionini, operator of the poker platform, is pleased with the revision of the law. "This would enable many players who are currently still playing illegally to pursue their hobby legally again." On the other hand, he expects “because of the high requirements in the present draft law” that after the legalization there will be two thirds fewer poker clubs than before. After the federal court approved a complaint from the casino association six years ago and classified poker as a game of chance, all commercial poker clubs had to close or even be broken up with raids.

Marc Horisberger demands that the players can decide for themselves how many tournaments they want to play in one evening and so “the market decides on the number of players, the stakes and the number of tournaments”. Sascha Crescionini suggests a maximum stake per tournament of 20 to a maximum of 300 francs.

"There must be no parallel industry"

The Swiss Casino Association does not want to comment on the definition of the maximum stakes or the number of tournaments allowed per day. The association emphasizes that no commercial parallel industry should emerge which would compete with the casinos. "The main thing is: Small poker tournaments with money stakes are allowed again, as the operators always wanted," says Marc Friedrich, managing director of the casino association. It is also normal that commercial operators have to adhere to certain rules. Friedrich emphasizes: "Anyone who wants to play poker without any stipulations on stakes and playing time can do so at any time with the new law among private friends and family."

Crescionini does not believe that poker clubs, which are under-regulated, are proving to be competition for the casinos: "Although the casinos have had a monopoly on poker tournaments since the federal court ruling, the offer has barely increased." While thirty to forty tournaments were held per day across Switzerland in the past, there are now days when a tournament is not held in any casino. "So it stands to reason that those people who are interested in small poker tournaments don't go to the casino anyway."

Requirements for small poker tournaments

According to the new gaming law, a poker club must meet various requirements in order to be able to organize poker tournaments. The club must be an association that has a good reputation and guarantees transparent management. In addition, the money stake in the tournament must be in the "low" range, whereby the Federal Council still has to define how high the stakes may be. It also has to be determined how many tournaments a club is allowed to hold per day. From 24 tournaments per year, the club is obliged to adhere to the accounting obligations under the Code of Obligations and to have its finances audited.