Liechtenstein is a popular destination among European tourists, mostly because of its Alpine scenery and magnificent castles – but this tiny country is also a favorite destination of gamblers since its casinos caught the attention of the whole world.
“Las Vegas of the Alps” currently has six casinos. Since this microstate is a tenth the size of London and possesses a population of 40.000, this is a significant number of casinos. In Liechtenstein, gambling became legal in 2017, and since then, it’s been the favorite destination of tourists from Germany, Switzerland, and Austria.
Referendum to decide the fate of the casinos:
But will the glory last? If supporters of a casino ban win in the referendum that will be held on January 29th, it may end.
The arguments of those who support the ban are that the gambling industry damages the reputation of the country, which had been damaged when the blacklist of tax havens was released. More than ten years ago, easing bank secrecy laws began, and now the reputation is about to be damaged again.
IG VolksMeinung began the whole process of the referendum. Guido Meier, one of the members of IG VolksMeinung, said: “We don’t want to establish ourselves as a casino and poker hotspot in the middle of Europe. It’s a big reputation problem.”
If the ones who want to banish casinos from the country win in the referendum, all of the casinos will have to close during the next five years. Some casinos in Liechtenstein are owned by the industry’s giants, such as Austria’s Novomatic AG. Its sister company Gryphon Invest AG holds a majority in half of the casinos in Liechtenstein.
In the statement for Reuters, Gryphon said: “We hope that the voters will follow the advice of the two major parties, as well as the economic chamber and further institutions, and recognize that a well-regulated market is better than an outright ban.”
We didn’t receive a comment from Casino Austria International so far. However, the president of the country’s casino association and director of the Grand Casino, Reinhard Fischer, said that despite the referendum, the number of casinos in the country needed to be reduced to a maximum of four.
Still, he doesn’t agree with the statement that the gambling industry is a threat to the country’s reputation. He said: “What we do is in accordance with the law and, in some cases, even above the level required by law.”
A significant income:
One of the perks of Liechtenstein casinos is the income the country gets from the casinos. Last year’s revenue was 50 million Swiss francs or $54.51 million. Sabine Monauni, Deputy Prime Minister, said this was a significant revenue for the country’s budget.
The government wants to keep casinos, and they think the ban is too radical and excessive. Additionally, it doesn’t help in finding the solution for gambling addiction.