Budapest is the capital of Hungary, a country in central Europe, bordering with seven other countries: Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Romania, Ukraine, and Slovakia. With a population of 9 855 571 people, statistics of 2015, Hungary has just 1,9% of the population of the European Union, where has been a member since May 2004. The territory covers 93 011 km2, the language spoken is Hungarian, and the currency used is the Hungarian Forint (HUF), so it doesn’t belong to the Eurozone.
Gambling and betting in Hungary are legal, but restrictions do exist for both casinos and players. Even if the country wants to make gambling a more profitable and growing activity, the strict requirements for foreign operators still keep them away from the local market.
The legalization of poker a few years ago was an improvement in the gambling scenario that just confirms that betting has always been a top entertainment activity in Hungary. In fact, if we look back to the 19th century, we do find records of betting activities.
The main law for gambling in Hungary was established in 1991. Gambling online is legal too, as the government awarded licenses to some trusted operators. Despite this scenario, the restrictions, namely the fact that Hungarian banks don’t have the permission to process betting related transactions, limit the local gambling activities.
Even if the country has as a goal to make online betting more popular, the current rules have been the object of analysis by the European Union, in order to make them more competitive for foreign operators to enter the sector. After the 1991 Gambling Act, no more actions were taken in order to end the monopolist market.
For the market to advance presently, changes to the 1991 Gambling Act need to be made. Szerencsejatek Zrt is the company that holds the monopoly until 2020, including two land-based casinos. This government-run company is the leader of the gambling Hungarian market, even if there are other smaller private companies too.
Some changes have been made, though. In 2009 the ban on online poker was lifted, but there are setbacks like when in 2011 the slot machines were forbidden outside licensed casinos.
2013 was the year when the Gambling Act was revised and 11 casino licenses were granted, but the strict requirements just made that foreign operators tried to provide their services illegally in Hungary. Even so, from 2013 on, Hungarians were able to do sports betting and casino games, and before that date only horse racing and card games were available.
Facing this situation, local authorities are considering to lift some of these restrictions and to open the market to any operator. 2014 approved a law enabling foreign operators to get a license in exchange for 15% taxes. Lowering taxes and removing the land-based presence is clearly attractive to foreign companies.
In what online gambling is concerned, it could only be provided by a local operator or a concession. These concessions renew after five years and have an incredibly high fee of $450,000, plus a 20% tax on the gross revenue. This with the additional requirement of having to be based in Hungary or the European Union.
Along with those measures, the local authorities also penalized the illegal providers operating on the market. The above-mentioned bank of slot machines outside casinos had, as a result, the double of the turnover of casinos, but as there aren’t enough of them, illegal gambling boosted too.
Violating the law is risking having the site blocked by the Hungarian internet service providers. The online gambling scenario is, therefore, not much different from 1998, when Szerencsejatek enabled online gambling, and players placed bets with SMS.
Even with online gambling being open just a couple of years ago, the fees and requirements are still keeping foreign operators away.
Where to play Online
Facing this scenario, foreign casinos are many times the most logical choice for players, even if most of them don’t support the local language. Here are a few quality casinos for Hungarians to gamble online.
|Euro Palace||Video Slots||Guts Casino|
|Royal Panda||Royal Vegas||Mr Green|