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Hungary Eyes Gambling Liberalization…But There’s a Catch

Lots of European governments talk about breaking up their lucrative sports betting monopolies, but very few of them do so of their own volition. Hungary, is not one of those countries.

Late last week, lawmakers in the former Communist country began moving forward a proposal that would radically liberalize the way Hungarian gambling takes place.

According to a report published on, the new Hungarian proposal would reduce the number of licensed online operator to just two, down from five today. Those two licensees would also have the opportunity to offer online sports betting.

There is, however, a pretty significant catch – licenses will only be granted to currently licensed, land-based operators.

Not surprisingly, that idea isn’t sitting too well with gambling industry trade groups like the European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA). They say the proposed changes are discriminatory and definitely not in line with the Europe and Union’s single market theory. EGBA representatives say that they’ll challenge the new rules, should they actually take effect.

The proposed changes are not, however, the only steps Hungary has taken in the hopes of getting a better handle on their national gambling scene.

Last year, the country’s gaming officials began blocking the IP addresses of unlicensed gambling sites. That move has been fairly effective in reducing the number of black market sites serving Hungarian punters.

If passed, the new legislation would take effect on September 1.