The draft of a new gaming bill deposited by the Swiss Federal Government last week aims to regulate online gambling in Switzerland and allow brick-and-mortar casinos to use their licenses to also operate on the Internet. The bill contains no mention on the possibility for foreign operators to join the party.
According to the text, which is now out for consultation until August 20, 2014, all gambling winnings will be tax-free and poker tournaments will be allowed outside of the land-based casinos with some restrictions that still need to be clearly defined.
A few days after the Swiss Casino Federation issued a report accusing online gambling to be among the causes of the decline the Swiss gambling industry is suffering since 2007, the Federal Government decided to publish the draft of a new gambling act — the first expected since mid-2013.
According to a report from PokerFuse, the new bill plans to regulate online gambling within the country and allow land-based casinos to extend their offer in order to offer online services to Swiss residents.
Although Switzerland’s Federal Government plans to leave the country’s 26 cantons the freedom to decide upon licensing policies, it has included in the bill the creation of a new intra-national body to "institutionalize the exchange of ideas and cooperation between the authorities of the Confederation and the cantons."
As for what is included in the draft, Switzerland plans to make all gambling winnings tax free, as already happens in the United Kingdom, and to allow "small" poker tournaments and home games to be held outside licensed brick-and-mortar casinos. Nevertheless, the bill does not yet define what "small" exactly means, nor does it specify whether that relates to the buy-in, the prize pool or the amount of players involved.
The new gambling bill is seen by many as a prompt reply sent by the Federal Government to answer to the concerns expressed by Switzerland’s Casino Federation about the current status of the industry.
Early last week, an industry report published by the Casino Federation showed that brick-and-mortar casinos suffered for a 1.5 percent decline compared to 2013.
"In Switzerland, foreign online gaming is freely available," said the report. It is estimated that around CHF 100 million (approximately $113 million) go from Switzerland to foreign gambling operators every year.
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