Following persistent rumors about the reintroduction of slots, the Hungarian government appears to be headed towards making these machines available to larger audiences once again.
Slots were banned completely outside the country’s three licensed casinos when Hungarian gambling laws were altered virtually overnight in October 2012.
The move has been creating a monthly shortfall of USD 4.5 million in tax revenues, prompting the government to find some solutions to compensate for it.
Although politicians have high hopes following the recent legalization of online casinos and online poker sites in Hungary, it is still uncertain just how much of the expected budgetary income will materialize.
It has therefore been expected that the government would find a way for slot machines to operate more widely across the country.
Instead of letting slots back into pubs and restaurants, however, the government has decided to increase the number of licensed brick-and-mortar casinos. According to Hungarian gambling news reports the Ministry of National Economy is now planning to allocate 10 casino licenses in an invitation-only tender. Each license will be valid for a different city, for a 10 year period of time.
Based on international experience, wherever slots are legal they tend to be among the best cash cows for operators (and governments), so the planned move by the Hungarian government is certainly a sensible one.
Even more sensible, if one considers that the slots revenue at the country’s three existing casinos increased by 275% from 2011 to 2012. It is clear that while many Hungarian players have moved online to find gambling entertainment, the ban also drove immense funds into the remaining legal slot machines.
On the downside, the ban has also created large scale illegal gambling activity, as pubs converted their slots to “entertainment-only”’ machines, with bar tenders paying the actually winnings.