The gambling market in the landlocked European country of Hungary is currently relatively open, but that wasn’t always the case. Here, you can read information about the gambling legislation in Hungary.
Casino Games and Their Regulatory Status
With the passage of the Law on Organising Gambling Activities in 1991, gambling in its various forms became legal in Hungary. The first online casino didn’t start until 2017, but the country’s law finally legalized the practice of internet gambling in 2013.
Let’s break down the different forms of gambling to see how the law treats them in Hungary.
Gambling In Hungary, playing at land-based casinos has been permitted since 1991. Currently, the country is home to 11 casinos (the maximum allowed), with 5 of those being in Budapest. The typical casino games are available in Hungary, including Blackjack, Roulette, Poker, and slot machines, however sports betting and lottery games are not. There were also slot machine cafes in the country before they were outlawed in 2012.
Since 2013, Hungarian law has also recognized the legitimacy of licensed online casinos. A Hungarian online casino license can only be applied for by individuals who already operate a licensed land-based casino within the nation, while partnerships between venue operators and foreign sites are allowed.
Due to strict licensing requirements and a dearth of physical casinos, Hungary is home to a small selection of international gambling sites. Hungarians prefer to play video slots and table games at international online casinos due to a larger selection, although many of these sites are restricted by ISPs in the country.
There are two variations of live poker that are permitted in Hungary. Although video poker machines are not exclusive to casinos, they do complement the traditional banked version of the game (such as casino poker). There are also four poker clubs in the country where you may play games against real people instead of the computer. A valid business license is essential in both circumstances.
Poker can be played online in Hungary, but only if the site’s operator has a valid casino license. Again, this is likely because there are so few casinos in the country that internet poker sites are quite uncommon. As long as the country’s Internet service providers haven’t blocked the sites, locals can still play online poker through offshore services.
Bingo Due to a lack of bingo halls and players, bingo is something of a lost game in Hungary. According to the country’s gambling legislation, bingo can be played, but only by Szerencsejáték Zrt. There were no longer any places to play bingo after the Bingó Sugár bingo hall, which had been operational since 2009, shut down. Only games operated in local hotels or nursing homes qualify as “offline,” and these establishments are usually given a pass by authorities.
Due to the monopoly, no other operator is allowed to provide online bingo gambling services, hence Szerencsejáték Zrt. does not. Those who want to play bingo games online can only do so at unblocked bingo sites in other countries.
Lottery gambling, both physically and digitally, is allowed in Hungary, although the state-owned Szerencsejáték Zrt. has a virtual monopoly on the industry. Hungarians can visit any convenience store or gas station to purchase lottery tickets, scratch cards, or keno games. The website also serves as a venue for customers to play and purchase tickets for various online lottery games. EU fair competition laws make it extremely difficult for Hungary to punish players who gain access to real money online lottery games via international lottery sites.
Loot boxes, Crypto-Casinos, and Social-Games-Based Gambling
While gambling is legal in Hungary, it is unclear how free online casinos, often known as social casinos, are treated. Loot boxes and the growing practice of gambling with in-game skins are both affected by this.
Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are not explicitly prohibited, but the law does not recognize them as legal cash, therefore they exist in a legal gray area when it comes to online gambling sites that accept them. Therefore, virtual currencies cannot be used in traditional gambling establishments. But by partnering with third-party payment processors that support crypto transactions, online casinos may sidestep this problem.
Gambling Regulations in Hungary
Tippmix, a brand operated by Szerencsejáték Zrt, is the sole legal sports betting option in Hungary. Football is the most popular sport on which to wager at the nation’s various sports books. Kincsem, a brand operated by Magyar Lóversenyfogadást-szervez Kft, also offers horse racing betting, albeit on a considerably smaller scale.
Although online sports betting is permitted in Hungary, it is the sole purview of Szerencsejáték Zrt. via Tippmix, as users in the nation are unable to access offshore sportsbooks. Hungarian law does not apply to offshore gambling sites, so gamblers are free to place wagers at offshore sites if they like.
While esports and fantasy sports betting aren’t explicitly listed in Hungary’s gambling regulations, they are nevertheless considered to fall under the exclusive control of Szerencsejáték Zrt.
Maximum Gambling Age Set at 21
In Hungary, people must be at least 18 years old to attend a casino or poker room or use an online gambling site.
Land-based and internet casinos in Hungary must pay a tax of 30% on annual revenue of less than 10 billion HUF (about €27 million) and an additional 10% on revenue of more than 10 billion HUF. The license price, which is 116 million HUF (about €300,000), is deductible for businesses.
The lottery operator in the country is subject to a tax of between 17 and 24 percent of the total monthly prize pool for all games. Bingo monthly prize pools are taxed at 7%, while the tax rate for sports betting is 20% of net earnings. The tax rate for online sports betting is 15% of net winnings.
Players don’t have to pay taxes on profits from legitimate casinos, but they do have to report money made from unregulated sites.
Legalized Gambling in Hungary: A Brief History
The Nemzeti Casino in Hungary debuted in 1827, nearly two centuries after the first casino in the world had opened in Italy. After years of success, the casino finally shut its doors in 1944.
Not long after that, in 1949, the then-Soviet Union occupied Hungary, making gambling illegal across the board. After regaining its independence in 1989, most types of gambling were legalized under the Law on Organising Gambling Activities in 1991.
In 2012, the government passed a law making it illegal for bars and other non-casinos to have slot machines.
Although Hungary legalized internet gambling in 2013, it wasn’t until 2017 that the country’s first licensed online casino, Vegas.hu, opened for business. Grandcasino.hu followed suit not long after.
Legal Online Gambling in Hungary: The Essentials
The fundamentals of gambling in Hungary are laid out below.
Parimutuel betting in casinos is legitimate: Online casinos (including live casino sites) must be owned by or in collaboration with traditional brick-and-mortar casinos in order for operators to obtain necessary licenses.
Playing poker is not illegal: Casinos, with their gaming licenses, feature banked games, while poker rooms include games between individual players.
Lotteries and bingo can be played legally: Szerencsejáték Zrt has a monopoly on these.
Betting on sports is legitimate: Szerencsejáték Zrt., operating under the Tippmix brand, has a monopoly on both land-based and online sports betting, while Kincsem, operated by Magyar Lóversenyfogadást-szervez Kft., has a monopoly on horse racing betting.