Switzerland Prepares for a National Referendum on New Gambling Law

Published May 18, 2018 by Florin P

Switzerland Prepares for a National Referendum on New Gambling Law

Switzerland’s new gambling law likely to pass when the national referendum is conducted on June 10.

In October 2017, Swiss legislators voted on a new gambling law that would apply to online gambling operators catering for local players. The proposed piece of legislation will bring significant changes to existing laws and would also increase online taxes. Furthermore, only those operators that have partnered with land-based Swiss casinos will be allowed to provide games to Swiss nationals. To enforce this new law, Internet service providers would have to block the websites of unauthorized international casinos.

The law would have passed already hadn’t it been for the Free Democratic Party (FDP). The youth wing of this political organization got the necessary number of signatures to force the referendum. This will probably only delay the process and the gambling bill will be adopted nonetheless. That’s because the most recent GfS Bern survey suggests that more than half of the respondents are in favor of the new gambling law. 39% are against and 9% are yet to make a decision in this regard or will not vote.

A Significant Blow for International Casinos

The ones who proposed the new gambling bill insist on the fact that the ones opposing the new law are international gaming websites. Switzerland already has the biggest taxes in Europe and the new law will further increase these levies. The fact that international casinos would have to team up with a local operator will only make their access more difficult. The online tax rate starts at 20% for revenue up to $3 million and increases to 40% when the income is greater.

Switzerland’s Federal Council is still discussing the rate at which taxes should rise and suggested a cap of 80%. No other European country has such big casino taxes, so it’s unlikely that international gambling websites will be interested in entering this market. Meanwhile, the government expects an increase of cash to state coffers, somewhere in between $40 million to $75 million. The consultations between the Federal Council’s representatives and the interested parties are set to conclude on June 15.

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