Casinos hit the jackpot - Tuesday 12th of April 2005

Swiss casinos had a winning year in 2004, taking in SFr769 million ($645 million), an increase of 37 per cent on the previous year.But the gambling joints were not the only ones to strike it lucky, as more than half of their earnings flowed into the coffers of the government and cantons.In all, SFr316 million of the casinos??? gross takings in 2004 are destined for the federal welfare system and SFr54 million will go to the cantons where the casinos are located.

More than four million punters filed into the 18 casinos of the Swiss Casino Federation (SCF) last year. This was a million more than in 2003. Each player spent an average of SFr175.

People trying their luck on slot machines generated three-quarters of the total income or SFr534 million, while a third or SFr182 million came from gambling tables.

High earnersNearly two-thirds of the total amount was spent in the so-called A Casinos - the larger establishments - particularly in Baden, Basel and Lugano. The A Casinos have no upper limit on bets.

However, 2004 also had a darker side. The SCF barred nearly 3,500 people from its casinos last year, taking the total of punters with a "difficult relationship with gambling" to more than 9,700 people at the end of 2004.

The federation is confident about 2005 ??? it expects gamblers to spend around SFr800 million.

The Swiss casino industry, in its current form, is a relatively young one. The Swiss government granted the first round of concessions allowing the new-style casinos to be set up in 2001, thus opening up a lucrative source of income for federal and cantonal coffers.

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