In early June 2010, the Swiss Supreme Court ruled that poker is a game of luck, not of skill. This ruling officially restricted the game of poker to officially licensed casinos, effectively shutting down all real-money poker games happening in clubs, bars, and other establishments throughout the country.
A recent attempt to reverse this ruling has, unfortunately, been shot down. A movement to expand the country’s poker offerings by allowing more freedom to Swiss poker rooms was put to an official vote. While Councilors from both of Switzerland’s’ primary political parties were in favor of expanding the country’s poker offerings, the Federal Council, which has the final say in legal matters such as these, was not convinced.
The plan to allow poker games and tournaments outside of casinos has been officially denied. The news comes as a disappointment not only to Swiss poker players, but also to those hoping that expanded poker offerings would provide new employment opportunities.
Gaming Analyst Steve Schwartz is not surprised that the Federal Council chose not to amend Swiss gambling laws. “It was going to take an overwhelming argument for the Federal Council to agree to change the laws,” said Schwartz, “and the promise of additional jobs was simply not enough.”
Even though Swiss poker games will remain exclusive to casinos, millions of poker fans in the country get around this limitation by playing at online poker sites in Switzerland. There are no internet poker sites actually hosted in the country, but many international sites licensed in other parts of the world are glad to accept Swiss players.