Recent years have seen most EU countries revamping their mobile gambling laws in compliance with the TFEU (Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union). Hungary has become one of the latest countries to introduce new online betting regulations starting January 2023.
The new regulations, passed on July 22, 2022, by the country’s legislature, amend the Gambling Act XXXIV of 1991 to bring in sweeping changes. Chief among the changes is freeing the online gambling market from the long-standing state monopoly.
But it’s critical to note that the new regulations don’t touch anywhere on mobile casino games. This gambling service will continue to operate under the country’s legal land-based casinos.
The new regulations will end the long-drawn battle between the government and EEA sportsbook operators. The current rules introduced in 2014 make the state-owned Szerencsejatek Zrt the single betting service provider in Hungary.
This status quo has created legal tension in the market, with top mobile casino operators like Sporting Odds and Unibet suing the Government of Hungary in the CJUE (Court of Justice of the European Union). The operators wanted the court to decide whether the Hungarian Government went against Article 6 of the TFEU, which compels EU member states to allow cross-border trade.
Luckily for the operators, the bench concluded that the Hungarian iGambling regime unlawfully blocked EU/EEA mobile gambling apps from acquiring the country’s gambling license. The court said Hungary must adopt a transparent, proportionate, and non-discriminatory licensing procedure.
Following the ‘landmark’ judgment, the Hungarian Government submitted its online gambling regulation proposal to the European Commission in February 2022. The country’s lawmakers unanimously approved the proposed scheme in July 2022.
The best mobile casinos in Europe know that getting a gambling license can be tiring and expensive. Hungary is no exception, with EEA operators bracing themselves for strict licensing requirements from the GSA (Hungarian Gambling Supervisory Authority).
The law published in the Hungarian Gazette doesn’t specify the number of permits to be issued by the GSA. There are also scanty requirements to be met by the EEA sports betting operators. But the proposal on the European Commission’s table has the following licensing conditions:
Before an EEA operator can apply for the GSA license, the new law requires them to register and appoint a “representative” to the Hungarian Gambling Supervisory Authority. The appointee must be a Hungarian citizen who lives in the country. The “representative” must also have a Master’s Degree in law or economics from a recognized institution.
In the meantime, the EEA operators must exercise patience after applying for the Hungarian online betting license. The operators have up to 75 days to identify and register a “representative” with GSA. Also, the licensing process can take up to 120 days. But after complying with tax requirements has yet to be registered, an operator has a 15-day window to register.
All in all, the new laws might seem strict, but they are definitely for the better. These laws will make the betting industry in Hungary liberal, hence creating more opportunities for EEA operators and players. So, brace yourself for good gambling times in Hungary!