Swiss lawmakers vote against tax on lottery and gambling winnings

Switzerland's National Council has voted against a proposal to tax players' lottery and gambling winnings.

The decision of the lower house of the Swiss parliament puts it at odds with the Council of States, which had approved the imposition of a tax on sports betting and lottery winnings of over CHF1,000, while maintaining the tax-free status of land-based casino winnings.

Another proposal to also extend the tax to online casino winnings was rejected because it could lead to players seeking out unregulated offerings.

Swiss Justice Minister Simonetta Sommaruga said that the removal of the tax on winnings would help make the Swiss gambling market more attractive than foreign offerings.
The issue of whether to tax gambling winnings was seen as the second major sticking point in the Federal Assembly's ratification of the country's revised Gambling Act, which also authorises land-based casinos to offer online casino games to Swiss players. This after an earlier contentious point - enforcing site-blocking for unlicensed offerings - was passed by both the National Council and Council of States.

The two chambers of the Federal Assembly also differed on the issue of tax relief for small casinos in mountainous regions. A minority motion from Social Democrat Natalie Rickli to offer tax relief of one-third to such establishments was passed, excluding casinos in wealthy areas such as Davos and St Moritz which do not require the aid.

A second motion filed by Rickli to prevent lottery funds from being sent abroad was defeated, meaning the funds can be used for international non-profit purposes as opposed to benefitting the local community.

The bill now returns to the Council of States for further debate.

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