Despite its small size (population: 40,000), the gaming industry views Liechtenstein as something of a minefield because of historical and ongoing regulatory and licensing concerns. Learn more about the gaming regulations of Liechtenstein by reading our in-depth guide below.
Casino-Specific Gambling Laws
When the Geldspielgesetz (GSG – gaming Act) was passed in 2010, it legalized all kinds of gaming in Liechtenstein. Some activities, however, are unavailable in the country as a result of legal and licensing hurdles. To better understand the gaming laws in Liechtenstein, we will examine each one in turn.
The situation is more nuanced than just saying that casinos on land and online have been authorized in Liechtenstein since 2010. Land-based casinos require their operators to have a license; however, a legal disagreement with Austrian gambling corporation Novomatic froze the licensing process for years.
By the end of 2017, the mess had been worked out to the point that legitimate casinos could apply for and receive operating licenses. Visitors from the wealthy neighboring countries of Switzerland and Austria frequent the six or so casinos that have opened in Liechtenstein in recent years.
The licensing process for online casinos in Liechtenstein has been put on hold by the government until at least the end of 2023. Gamblers can still visit online casinos to play video slots, table games, and live dealer games. As a member state of the European Union, Liechtenstein is obligated by law to open its gaming market to operators from other EU countries.
EU law stipulates that the Liechtenstein government cannot punish gamers of these overseas sites because no companies can obtain a Liechtenstein gambling license at present.
In accordance with a law enacted in 2010, poker gaming is allowed in Liechtenstein, with licensed businesses offering the game. Those in search of live poker action can do it in any of the country’s many casinos. Those in Liechtenstein interested in playing poker online can do so at one of a select few poker sites.
Although both traditional bingo halls and internet bingo sites have been authorized in Liechtenstein since 2010, the popularity of the game remains low. There are no bingo halls or locally based online bingo services, though some of the casinos do provide the occasional bingo game. That means the few curious locals can gamble at foreign sites if they want to play online bingo.
Although lottery gambling is legal in Liechtenstein, both the online and offline markets failed in 2011. Formerly, Liechtenstein’s citizens could play lotteries thanks to the efforts of the International Lottery in Liechtenstein Foundation, a nonprofit group that launched the first ever online lottery in 1995.
The foundation’s bankruptcy in September 2011 prevented the proceeds from being distributed to any of the numerous Liechtenstein-based charities. Since then, neither virtual nor physical lottery games have been legal in the country. Nonetheless, people in Liechtenstein can still go to international websites and play online lotteries for real money.
Loot boxes, Crypto-Casinos, and Social-Games-Based Gambling
Not only are lootboxes and skins gambling not explicitly addressed in Liechtenstein’s current gambling rules, but neither is playing online casino games using play chips, as is offered by many social gaming sites.
Similar to how no legislation in Liechtenstein specifically address cryptocurrencies, no casinos in the country now accept digital currencies like Bitcoin, Litecoin, or Ether. People who want to bet with cryptocurrency can do so at offshore crypto casinos without worrying about legal repercussions.
Liechtenstein’s Regulation on Sports Gambling
Liechtenstein is surprisingly a legal “no man’s land” when it comes to sports betting. There are no known betting shops or online bookies in Liechtenstein, despite the fact that both offline and online gambling on sports are permitted in the country as of 2010. Bettors from Liechtenstein can, nevertheless, place wagers with many of the world’s largest sportsbooks.
Age Limits for Gambling
Residents of Liechtenstein must be at least 18 years old to enter any casino within the country or engage in any form of internet gambling.
Although most of Liechtenstein’s gaming infrastructure is currently inactive, the country’s gambling tax regulations are otherwise well-established. Casinos must pay taxes ranging from 12.5% to 40% of their revenue, while lottery and sports betting operators must pay taxes between 10% and 20% of their sales, and online gambling companies must pay taxes ranging from 5% to 12.5% of their revenue.
Liechtensteiners benefit from a more favorable tax system, with gains up to 1,000,000 CHF being exempt from taxation.
Liechtenstein’s Gambling Legislation and Its Past
Since 1949, Liechtenstein has strictly prohibited all forms of gambling. Only in 1995 did the government legalize gambling at all, allowing the International Lottery in Liechtenstein Foundation to sell lottery tickets in exchange for a portion of the proceeds to be given to good causes. In 2011, the charity officially declared bankruptcy.
In 2010, the Geldspielgesetz (GSG) – the Gambling Act – became the primary gambling law in the country. Because of this, businesses could legally enter the market. The licensing procedure was put on hold for a long time due to legal disputes between Novomatic and the country after they had their license.
When things finally began to pick up steam in 2017, at least six new land-based casinos opened across the country.
Despite the fact that the Gambling Act of the country mandates licensing for online gambling operations, the government has delayed issuing licenses until at least the end of 2023.
Although Liechtenstein’s gambling rules are clear, they are not always followed. Key facts about Liechtenstein’s gaming laws are outlined here.
Even though people are not penalized for gambling on foreign slot sites or live casino sites, there are currently no Liechtenstein-based internet casinos due to licensing concerns.
Some of Liechtenstein’s casinos include poker games, and a few reputable online poker rooms welcome players from the country.
Although Liechtenstein allows gambling, there are no local bingo sites or bingo halls.
Although sports betting is permitted in Liechtenstein, there are no brick-and-mortar bookies or licensed online betting services available to residents.
Gambling on lotteries is permitted in Liechtenstein, although the country’s monopoly operator, the International Lottery in Liechtenstein Foundation, collapsed in 2011.