Plates of bacalhau, Super Bocks and sweet pastéis de natas are on the cards as SBC Summit heads to Lisbon for the first time later this year. 

Gathering stakeholders from all corners of Europe, the event’s new Portuguese destination will shine a light on key developments and prevalent issues within the casino sector, among many other industries. 

One nation set to be placed under the spotlight at the Summit is Switzerland. Wolfgang Bliem, CEO at Grand Casino Luzern, spoke to CasinoBeats about Swiss online casino gaming and the operator’s push to bring land-based activity back to pre-pandemic levels. 

CasinoBeats: Can you give us a brief oversight of the Money Gaming Act and the framework that oversees the casino sector in Switzerland?

Wolfgang Bliem, CEO at Grand Casino Luzern

Wolfgang Bliem: In 1998, the Swiss parliament approved Switzerland’s first casino law, whereupon the Grand Casino Luzern was granted a casino licence in 2001. The Gaming Act was then revised in 2019, incorporating the requirements for online casinos. This was another major milestone. 

The Gambling Act regulates all forms of gambling. The aim is to protect players from gambling addiction, ensure fair games and transfer revenues to the old-age and survivor’s insurance scheme (pensions). The casino sector is monitored by the Swiss Federal Gaming Board, which issues licences, monitors gaming operations and enforces measures to combat illegal games.

CB: How important is it that Swiss regulators take action to strengthen protections against the black market?

WB: It is very important that the Swiss Federal Gaming Board takes measures to strengthen protection against the black market in the casino sector. Illegal providers are not controlled by the Swiss authorities, offer no protection against gambling addiction and manipulation and pay no taxes or duties in Switzerland. In addition, black market providers circumvent gambling addiction prevention regulations, which increases the risk of gambling addiction.

Illegal gambling activities deprive the state of significant tax revenues that could be used for old-age and survivor’s insurance. Increased measures against the black market therefore safeguard the integrity of the market and protect both players and the economy.

CB: Can you give us more details on some of the successful impacts of the ring-fenced model being utilised in Switzerland? 

WB: The ring-fenced model applied in Switzerland has had several positive effects. It has increased security and fairness in the casino sector by only allowing land-based licensed operators to offer gambling services. This has led to better protection for players, as all operators are subject to strict regulations and controls. The model has also helped to secure revenue for the state and keep illegal providers out of the market. This has generated considerable revenue, which is exclusively used for the old-age and survivor’s insurance.

CB: Have you had any success in cross-selling and transitioning land-based players to the online space? What type of challenge does this provide? 

WB: We launched in 2019. During the pandemic, we had to close the casino for several months and many of our players switched to the online platform. We proactively supported this switch with various promotions. In addition, the Grand Casino Luzern brand has created trust among online players.

We were able to benefit from the first-mover advantage and remain the most successful online casino in Switzerland with a market share of one-third. On the other hand, the number of visitors to brick-and-mortar casinos has not yet returned to pre-pandemic levels. That is why we are now trying to get online players excited about land-based casinos again with our cross-selling measures. 

We offer our guests various promotions and events and have our own loyalty club “myclub” in our land-based operations. This comprises different levels and players receive different benefits depending on their level. We also offer more special events in all areas. In combination with our fine-dining restaurant, there are attractive opportunities for cross-selling activities in all directions. 

Not all players want to play on both sales channels and the challenge is to find the right offers and the right player segments. The high-rollers in both segments are usually reluctant to switch sides and the best cross-selling opportunities are in the middle player segment. We are also increasingly offering cross-divisional special events. For example, online players are invited to an event at the Grand Casino Lucerne.

CB: How crucial is it that you continue to diversify your slots offering to keep players engaged? Are there any key trends when it comes to game preferences in Switzerland? 

WB: The Grand Casino Luzern offers a variety of different slot machines from over 10 providers. The classic reel machines from a Swiss manufacturer, which have been in use for over 20 years, are still popular. As a special feature, we offer a roulette table that can be played directly at the gaming table, at terminals in the casino or via our online casino The global trend in slots towards larger screens, branded gaming content and immersive gaming experiences also applies to Switzerland.

CB: Can you tell us what you are looking forward to and why the SBC Summit in Lisbon is such a key event on the calendar? 

WB: The SBC Summit in Lisbon is an important event in the calendar as it brings together industry experts and leaders from across the gambling and sports betting industry. I am looking forward to the networking opportunities where I can make valuable contacts and form new partnerships. The summit will also provide a platform for sharing knowledge and best practices through presentations and panel discussions with leading experts. 

I am honoured to be one of the speakers and look forward to learning from my peers during the event.

CB: Finally, what else can we expect to see from Grand Casino Luzern in the coming months, ahead of the event and beyond? 

WB: The Grand Casino Lucerne has been repeatedly voted the best casino in Switzerland and is the market leader in the online segment. With excellent positioning in all three segments (online casino, land-based casino and F&B), targeted and specific promotions are being planned and will leverage cross-selling on the one hand and synergies on the other. The granting of the concession for another 20 years last year allows us to consider corresponding investments in the modernisation of our land-based casino.