Switzerland gaming reform passes final vote

Legislation designed to bring Switzerland’s gambling laws into the 21st Century has passed a final vote in the country’s parliament.

The Money Gaming Act encompasses both the Swiss land-based casino industry and the online gambling sector and is designed to replace historic gambling laws passed in 1923 and 1998.

Under these previous laws, online gambling was technically illegal, however the laws made no specific prohibition of these services and as such international operators could target Swiss players.

The new Money Gaming Act formally legalises online gambling in Switzerland but only allows local operators with a land-based presence in the Swiss gambling market to operate online gaming websites.

Switzerland’s internet service providers are also now required by law to block the access of international gaming operators, with the Swiss government compensating the ISPs for any additional expenses incurred in doing so.

Taxation on winnings from sports betting and lotteries will now be limited to winnings of CHF1m and above, while winnings from land-based casinos will not be taxed.

The introduction of the Money Gaming Act has been opposed by the youth organisations of the Swiss People’s Party, the Free Democratic Party and the Green Liberal Party. All three organisations are reportedly organising a referendum against the move to block international websites, arguing that it violated principles for the free movement of services and access to the Internet.

In order to do so, the parties will have to collect more than 50,000 signatures from Swiss citizens; signature collection is set to begin today. Under Swiss law the parties have 100 days to obtain the required signatures to force a referendum on this legislation.

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