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Betting in Hungary

Published on: 01/02/2016

Hungary joined the European Union and NATO after regaining its freedom in 1991. Prior to this, the nation had been part of the Eastern Bloc after Russian were deployed to quell an anti-Soviet movement during the Cold War.

In 1991, the Hungarian Gambling Act enabled a state monopoly to govern the nations gambling industry. It is compulsory for all betting venues in the country to be co-owned and partly controlled by the government.

The EU has had disagreed with many areas of the Hungarian Gambling Act. Most notably in 2007, when the EU requested that amendments be made to allow free contention within the sports gambling industry trade. However, the issue has yet to be resolved.

Following the Hungarian Gambling Act, a state lottery known as the Szerencsejáték Zrt was initiated, in order to raise money for national projects. Lottery style games including online lottery, scratch cards, number games, sports gambling and keno have now been available since the 1990s.

Under government control, gambling establishments have been made legally available throughout the country. Local people have a choice of over twenty casinos housing slot machines and gambling tables, most of which are promoted by the Merkur Company. There are at least 12 gambling venues located in Budapest - the Casino Las Vegas and the Tropican Casino are two of the largest games houses and are always open for business. They attract locals as well as punters from abroad. Horse racing betting pools have been popular in Hungary since the late 1800s. At one time, tobacco stores and lottery outlets sold tickets directly to the public. Currently, Hungary has one major horse race track known as Kincsem Park. It is located in Budapest and holds events from December through till May. Szerencsejáték Zrt operates all sports gambling in Hungary. It controls hundreds of betting venues and holds the rights until 2020. In addition, it is the only body allowed to offer online sportsbooks in Hungary. The monopoly’s online services began in 1998, and four years later introduced wagering via SMS texting on mobile phones. In 2004, the Hungarian government took measures to stop UK gambling companies from offering sportsbooks to the nation’s citizens. Two years later, the government took further steps to inhibit online transactions to internet casinos and games sites such as Bet and Win and Sportingbet. Credit card transactions through many national banks were also blocked.

Although the Hungarian government has attempted to stop its citizens from betting online, a large number of people still use foreign gambling web sites. Many popular gambling web sites welcome Hungarian punters and even provide information in the Hungarian language. It is thought that there are nearly 500 sportsbooks offering services to bettors in Hungary.

The Euro - rather than the Hungarian Forint - is the preferred currency of gambling companies based in the country. There are nearly 2,000 online sportsbooks who welcome payments from Hungarian punters via Visa credit card or MasterCard.