Hungarian Gambling Laws
Gambling is legal in Hungary. Hungarians can gamble at casinos and buy lottery tickets. They can also gamble on sports and even engage in online gambling, as long as that online gambling is run by Hungarian state monopolies.
It is illegal for Hungarian citizens to gamble online at foreign poker and casino websites. Hungarian gambling laws remain a hot legal and political topic, with foreign internet casinos and the European Union working to strike down the pertinent Hungarian laws.
The Hungary gambling laws are an example of what is happening across Europe at present, as the European Union and international gaming interests work to tear down national barriers to gambling.
Hungary Gambling Act of 1991
Hungary passed its 1991 Gambling Acts to develop a state gambling monopoly within the Hungarian national borders. While private investors are allowed to invest in Hungarian gambling interests, all Hungary gambling operations must be majority owned by the state of Hungary.
After Hungary entered the European Union, this law has been challenged by the EU. Internet gambling sites, mostly out of the UK, have also chosen to challenge these Hungarian gambling laws. No resolution of these disputes has been made up to this date.
Hungary and EU Casino Fight
The European Union has suggested Hungary make changes in its gaming laws to remain in compliance with EU free trade practices. In the same European Commission filing, Denmark and Finland were cited for similar breaches of EU conduct.
The crux of the EU's argument is about Hungary's national gambling operators, who are considered non-profit operators in Hungarian law. The European Union does not say it this way, claiming that these operators advertise their products and are required to meet revenue goals.
Countries in the EU are allowed to run non-profit games while restricting foreign operators, but EU members are not allowed to restrict commerce from private interests in other EU member states, if that blocking member allows its own private enterprises to engage in the same industry. The European Union suggests that Hungarian law keeps out other European gambling interests, while allowing Hungarian businessmen to operate casinos.
Hungary is by far not the only EU member embroiled in such legal disputes with the parent organization. This is a continuing battle the European Union seems willing to wage against various other members. France, Sweden and Greece have been similarly targeted over their sports betting laws.
Casinos in Hungary
Casino Las Vegas at Sofitel Budapest (Budapest) - Casino Las Vegas has 24 table and poker games, as well as 53 gaming machines. The casino games include Progressive Poker, American Roulette, Blackjack, Punto Banco and Poker. The casino also offers two cafes, one full restaurant and 351 hotel rooms. Call Casino Las Vegas at Sofitel at +36 1 317 6022 or visit the website at www.lasvegascasino.hu.
Tropicana Casino (Budapest) - Tropicana Casino has 37 casino games and 48 gaming machines. The casino table games include Poker, Craps, Blackjack, Baccarat, American Roulette, Caribbean Stud Poker and Punto Banco. The casino is open 19 hours a day, from 11am until 6pm. Tropicana Casino also houses the Bambo Bar, which serves American style food. The phone number for Tropicana Casino Budapest is +36 1 327 7250. The web address is www.tropicanacasino.hu.
Casino Gyor (Gyor) - Casino Gyor has 10 slot machines, 4 video poker machines and 12 casino game tables. These tables features American Roulette, European Roulette, Blackjack, Chemin de Fer, Punto Banco, Poker and Craps. The Casino Gyor phone number is +36 96 525 140.
Casino Kecskemet (Kecskemet) - Casino Kecksemet is open 12 hours a day, from 4pm until 4am. The casino is closed on December 24th, but not on Christmas Day. Casino Kecskemét offers 16 slots and 11 table games, including American Roulette, Blackjack and Poker. The casino also has a restaurant which serves Mediterranean cuisine. The contact information for the Kecskemet Casino is +36 76 480 160.
Casino Sopron (Sopron) - Casino Sopron is open 15 hours per day, from 1pm until 4am. The casino has 44 gaming machines and 14 table games, including Poker, American roulette and blackjack. The number to call Casino Sopron is +36 99 512 350.
Eurovegas Casino Planned
Eurovegas has plans for a major casino and resort at Bezenye, a town on the Hungarian border near both Austria and Slovakia. Eurovegas Hungary will invest $550 in the project, which will include a hotel, spa, restaurant, convention center and, of course, casino.
For a town of only around 1,600 people the Bezenye casino will be an economic boon. The property will be developed for Eurovegas Hungary by Lukale Investment & Development.
Online Gambling in Hungary
It is illegal for Hungarian citizens to engage in online gambling. Foreign internet casinos have taken Hungarian gamblers in years past, but Hungary began a crackdown in 2006. Hungarian banks began to block payments made to online casino sites and poker rooms.
Online sports books like Sportingbet and BetandWin indicated they had Hungarian transactions blocked in that year, while banking firms in Hungary are thought to have blocked transactions using credit cards issued by MKB, Citibank, IEB, Takarebank and K&H Bank.
The Hungarian Gambling Association, which interestingly have the acronym NSZSZ, is the organization with Hungarian regulatory powers in this case.
This is not the first time that online gambling has run afoul of the Hungarian government. Hungary took Sportingbet to court in 2004, after the U.K.-based Sportingbet launched a Hungarian-language casino in June of that year.
Lottery in Hungary
The state lottery of Hungary is called Szerencsejatek Zrt, which was also founded in 1991. Szerencsejáték Rt. offers instant lotto games, standard Lotto games, numbers games, Sports betting and Keno. Scratch games are popular, while Hungary continues to expand their online lotto options.
The Hungarian National Lottery takes in over 500,000,000 Euros ever year. The phone number to reach Szerencsejáték ZRt is +36 1 201 0526, or visit their website at www.szerencsejatek.hu.
Szerencsejatek Rt is administered by EssNet, which handles the lotto in many European and Middle Eastern countries, as well as in Australia. The instant ticket vendor for the Hungary Lotto is Oberthur.
As of 2008, there are talks of privatizing the Hungarian state lottery. There is even talk of taking Szerencsejáték Rt onto the stock exchange.
Hungary is located on a plain in East-Central Europe. Ethnic Hungarians consider themselves Magyars, a race distinct from the Germans and Slavs who populate most of Eastern Europe.
Hungary was an independent kingdom until the early 16th century, when most of Hungary was occupied by Ottoman Turk armies. The rest of Hungary was considered a separate kingdom ruled by the Habsburg Austrians. The Hungarian nobility maintained certain rights and privileges, which were considered a Hungarian constitution.
By the late 17th century, the Ottomans were pushed out of the Hungarian plain. Hungary became a part of the Austrian Empire, though the Hungarian nobles retained their rights.
After the French Revolution, in the time of nationalism, Austria was weakened by the large number of ethnic nationalities under their rule. The Hungarians were one of these nationalities, highlighted by a Hungarian revolution in 1848, which was only put down with Russian intervention on behalf of Austria. Austrian-ruled peoples increasingly wanted to rule themselves, so that Austria became anachronistic in post-French Revolution modern Europe.
Austria found itself on the front lines against unification movements in Italy and Germany. Ironically, Austria was considered the leading German power, but would not give up its foreign possessions to vie for German leadership against Prussia.
Eventually, Germany was united under the Prussians, excluding the Austrian Empire from Germany. In the same years, the Austrians were ousted from Italy. Their empire teetered on dissolution, and they turned to the Hungarians for aid in maintaining control. This led to the creation of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1868, and only 20 years after the Austrians had to squelch Hungary's independence from the empire, the Hungarians gained decisive influence in Austrian politics.
Austro-Hungary would last for 50 years, until the end of World War I. When the Austrian Empire dissolves, the Hungarians gained their own independent state, but lost territory to new states like Romania, Yugoslavia and Czecho-Slovakia. This led to Hungary's alliance with Nazi Germany a generation later, as the Hungarians wanted to regain their lost territory.
This proved a temporary gain when Hungary was on the losing side of World War II. Hungary permanently lost much of the Carpathian Mountains to Romania, though many Hungarians continue to live there to this day.
Hungary instead was made a Soviet satellite during the Cold War. A Hungarian anti-Soviet movement was put down by Soviet tanks in 1956, an ironic repeat of history just over 100 years from the Russian intervention in Hungary in the revolutions of 1848.
Hungary eventually gained freedom from the Soviet Union in 1991, and has since become a member of NATO and the European Union. Most of Hungary's current gambling laws were written in that fateful year of 1991.
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