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.