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Hungary Set to End State Gambling Monopoly

Hungarian lawmakers recently introduced a bill that would break up the state’s sports betting monopoly and open the country’s gambling market to outside competition. It’s a move that’s been deployed by many other European Union nations and it’s sort of surprising it’s taken Hungary so long to join the party.

The bill outlines a new vision for the Hungarian gaming market that starts out by dissolving the state-run sports betting operator, Szerencsejáték Zrt’s online sports betting monopoly. Since 2014, Szerencsejáték Zrt has been the only legal option for Hungarian sports bettors. Under the new regulatory scheme, any EU operator that hasn’t engaged in unlicensed gaming for at least ten years can apply for a sports betting license.

Applicants for Hungarian sports betting licenses must prove that they have at least $3.8 million in working capitol and will also have to come up with a $1.9 million license fee. So far, there’s no indication of how many online gaming licenses the Hungarian government is planning on issuing.

Lawmaker’s plans for liberalizing their gambling markets also include a focus on the potential rise of problem gambling in the country. A draft copy of the bill quoted on notes, “In a liberalised online betting market, several private companies are competing with each other, so there is a danger of encouraging excessive gambling instead of maximising the principle of responsible gaming.

“Therefore, the draft aims to liberalize remote gambling by emphasizing the protection of players and introducing guarantee regulatory elements that protect the interests of players.”

While Hungary’s march towards gambling liberalization didn’t come easily, it will certainly be appreciated by the gaming companies that now have an opportunity to open new markets.