Under the gambling laws, gambling is legal in Liechtenstein now. Until 2010, gambling was banned in the principality by the legislation which was in effect since 1949. The gambling industry was illegal for more than 60 years. There were several attempts to legalize the gambling industry, but they were not successful. Lottery was the only form of gambling allowed in Liechtenstein. Lottery games became also available online in 1995. A law known as Geldspielgesetz (GSG), which was passed only in 2010, lifted the ban on gambling and allowed the operation of official casinos in the principality. Legalizing casino gambling is beneficial for Liechtenstein's economy. The principality generated CHF 12 million in taxes on casino gambling in 2018.
Liechtenstein is experiencing a kind of boom in gambling. In 2018, the 38,000-person nation was home to two casinos. According to the Office of Economics’ Annual Report 2018, Liechtenstein’s two casinos generated CHF 53.6 million (approximately EUR 49 million) in 2018. Three more casino operators have applied for gambling concessions. Casino Admiral in Ruggell (a village of roughly 2,000 near the border with Switzerland) received permission to build another casino south of Vaduz, the capital , and Casino Admiral Triesen opened in November, 2019. The minimum gambling age in Liechtenstein is 18.
Laws and Regulators
The Gambling Act (Geldspielgesetz, or GSG) 2010, that came into effect in 2011, is the main regulatory act of all gambling activities in Liechtenstein. GSG permitted the licensing and regulation of casinos. Casino gambling became legal and authorized by a concession system. In April 2016, GSG was amended opening up the gambling market to more operators. The law introduced a license approval system instead of the initial concession system. According to GSG, all profits coming to the state from the gambling industry must be donated to various charitable projects and events.
The Office of Economics, operating under the Ministry of Infrastructure, Economy, and Sport, supervises gambling in Liechtenstein. The Office of Economics is responsible for granting and withdrawing permits, supervising providers of slot machines and monitoring compliance with the provisions of the Gambling Act. In October, 2019, the government decided to further strengthen gambling supervision and create a separate gambling department in the Office of Economics. The department will regulate the operation of the already approved casinos and the expected casinos.
Land Based Casinos
Today, there are three casinos, run by two casino operators, in Liechtenstein, and gambling is popular. These casinos are situated in strategic, economic locations and present a variety of casino activities. Liechtensteinian casinos do not include hotels but are close to many.
The Admiral Ruggell Casino, which started its operation in August 2017, became Liechtenstein's first casino for more than 170 years. The Admiral Ruggell Casino and the Admiral Poker Club have a total of 275 slot machines, 17 live game tables (including 7 poker tables), 3 bars, a restaurant, and an event area on 2,850 m2. The Admiral Poker Club offers the possibility to play all common poker variants and organizes poker tournaments and poker cash games on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. The entry is free. Although there is no particular dress code, men are recommended to wear long trousers. On their birthday, each casino guest receives CHF 50 in game credit, a glass of Prosecco, and 10% off a restaurant visit. Non-alcoholic drinks are served. Both smoking and non-smoking areas are available. The Casino Admiral Triesen opened on November 20, 2019. It operates 24/7. The casino is equipped with 80 slot machines and four gaming tables where blackjack and poker are played. It also has two roulette machines, with six terminals each, three jackpots and a bar with a wide range of drinks and snacks. A valid ID and/or passport are required to enter the Admiral gambling establishments.
Casino Schaanwald, operated by Casinos Austria International, opened in October, 2017. It is set 200 meters from the border with Austria, enjoying a prime location in a spot where four countries meet (Liechtenstein, Austria, Germany, and Switzerland). Casino Schaanwald offers casino entertainment on two floors. The gaming mix consists of seven table games and over 120 slot machines. The gaming facilities are complemented with two bars and a restaurant. FL / CH / EU / EEA citizens are required to show their ID or passport. For all other nationalities, a passport is needed. The dress code is smart casual. Credit / debit cards are accepted. All games are offered in CHF and EUR. Smoking is allowed in most casino areas.
Casino Admiral generated CHF 34.8 million of gambling revenue in 2018. The casino paid CHF13.2 million into the principality’s treasury. Casino Schaanwald’s gambling revenue amounted to CHF 18.7 million. The casino paid CHF 6.7 million into Liechtenstein’s treasury, meaning that the casinos combined to pay nearly CHF 20 million in gambling taxes and fees in 2018.
Under the current Liechtenstein gambling legislation, online gambling is allowed, but the licensing system is currently on hold. GSG has a section on online gambling, but due to the delay in implementing it, it is considered to be illegal. The only exception is the offer of lotto games. There are no authorized online gambling operators in the principality. The only online licensing that Liechtenstein has ever given out was to the ILLF which operated several online lottery sites from 1995 till 2011.
At its meeting on November 19, 2019, the government decided to suspend processing of applications for online gaming concessions until the end of 2023.