A few months ago, Hungarian gambling laws took a turn for the worst. Amendments were made to the Gambling Act which placed heavy regulations on local poker clubs, and levied huge taxes on poker winnings. The new rules also limited the profits of poker clubs to 15%, and required the clubs to give 30% of its revenues as taxes.
At the time, the Hungarian Poker Association saw the move as a strategy on the part of the Hungarian government to drive players out of local poker clubs and into casinos. This was confirmed by Ministry of Finance State Secretary Laszlo Detrekoi, who called the new rules a “compromise” between the interests of poker clubs and Hungarian casinos.
Instead, poker clubs are shutting down, and players are taking their game online. The clubs simply cannot turn a profit, and players are finding other ways to enjoy playing poker.
Online poker sites in Hungary are not locally hosted, because the government does not provide internet gambling licenses to Hungarian operators. Instead, players make use of internet poker sites operated out of other countries. But this, too, may soon change.
Recent political elections in the country brought the conservative party Fidesz into power for the first time in eight years. While they have not publically announced an opposition to online gambling, there have been some subtle hints. In a February interview with Erik Bánki, the Hungarian Parliament’s sport and tourism committee chairperson, it was revealed that Fidesz is interested in blocking online gambling, citing Denmark and Norway of examples of countries where internet gambling websites are blocked. Bánki said that Fidesz wants to limit internet gambling in Hungary, but they have yet to decide on a good way to go about it.
In the meantime, Hungarian poker players continue to enjoy the game online, where they can play without worrying about taxation and strict government regulation.