Gambling and problem gambling in Switzerland

Abstract

AIMS: To provide an overview of gambling and problem gambling in Switzerland, including historical aspects, past and current legislation and policies, treatment options and the research base. METHODS: A literature search was conducted on two databases (PubMed and PsycINFO), and official government and statistical reports selected from the official websites of four sources (Federal Office of Justice; Federal Gambling Board; Federal Office of Statistics; Swiss Lottery and Betting Board). RESULTS: After a history of banning or partial banning, Swiss gambling became regulated at the beginning of the 20th century through successive laws. The current system is characterized by important differences in the law and policies for casinos and lotteries, and contradictions in the regulation of these two areas are still under debate in order to develop new legislation. Gambling is widespread in Switzerland, and the prevalence of problem gambling in this country was comparable to that in other European countries in 2014. Most gambling treatment facilities are integrated into mental health treatment services that have out-patient programmes, and treatment for problem gambling is covered by a universal compulsory Swiss health insurance system. The availability of public funding for gambling research is still limited. CONCLUSIONS: Switzerland needs to develop a more coherent regulatory and prevention policy approach to gambling, overcoming conflicts in the current dual system of federal and cantonal regulation. Recent efforts to enhance funding for gambling research are promising, and could lead to a more systematic analysis of the efficacy of prevention and treatment programmes.

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