Switzerland set to adopt new gambling legislation

Switzerland's new gambling legislation is set for a final vote after lawmakers reached agreement on the contentious issue of tax rates.

Switzerland's revised gambling legislation, which has been circulating in draft form since 2014, will regulate online gaming for the first time and lift the prohibition on hosting small-scale poker tournaments.

The proposed legislation would replace the 1998 Gaming Act and the 1923 Lottery Act, unifying all gambling regulations under a single bill. Its progress has been held up, however, over the differing tax rates applied to different forms of gambling.

In March the country's National Council voted against a proposal to tax players' lottery and online gambling winnings, putting it at odds with the upper house of the Swiss parliament, the Council of State, which had approved the imposition of a tax on winnings of over CHF1,000.

Both houses have now agreed on a compromise whereby sports betting, online gaming and lottery winnings of less than CHF1.0m (US$1.02m) will be tax-exempt, paving the way for the adoption of the new law.

Under the new Gambling Act, which is subject to a final vote before coming into force, land-based casino operators in Switzerland will be eligible to apply for a licence to offer online gaming for the first time, while unlicensed gaming sites will be blocked in the country.

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