Swiss casinos overtake lotteries

Switzerland’s 19 casinos registered higher revenues than lotteries for the first time last year, the federal commission in charge of gambling says. The casinos earned CHF 955 million last year, while lotteries took in CHF 900 million, the commission said in a report released Tuesday.

Casino revenues in 2006 rose 9.2 per cent from the previous year while those from lotteries increased less than five per cent. The bulk of casino receipts came from slot machines, which swallowed CHF 747.6 million from the pockets of gaming enthusiasts.

The results come five years after the Swiss government loosened restrictions on casinos, allowing for larger amounts to be wagered.Half the receipts from casinos go to the government. A total of CHF 417 million was earmarked for the national pension scheme (AVS), while CHF 78 million was distributed to the cantons.

The casino with the highest turnover in the country is in Mendrisio in Ticino, the Italian-speaking part of the country, where revenues totalled CHF 132.6 million. The Montreux casino had the best results in French-speaking Switzerland, ranked third nationally behind Lugano, with sales last year of CHF 102.4 million.