Coming a year behind schedule, the first legal online sportsbook in Hungary has finally opened its virtual doors.
Operated by the state-owned gambling company Szerencsejatek, the site has been created by GTECH G2 and features betting on 13 types of sports, including futsal, bicycle racing, darts and Aussie rules football, in addition to the usual suspects, such as European football and tennis.
The launch comes only days before lawmakers are scheduled to vote on new Hungarian gambling laws, ending Szerencsejatek’s monopoly. Although the timing is certainly a coincidence, it still may give a slight edge to the company in establishing some brand recognition for its Tippmixpro site before potential competitors are allowed to jump on the bandwagon.
That jumping may not be very brisk, though. Each of the three liberalized online activities (Hungarian poker rooms, sportsbooks and casinos) will require separate licenses, the cost of which may dash any hopes of turning a profit in such a small market.
Moreover, the law will keep Szerencsejatek’s right to run any of the authorized online gambling operations without any further licensing requirements.
The combined impact of these regulations has already been criticized by the industry, and it remains to be seen whether any competitors would in fact apply for a Hungarian license. Even with ISP blocking obligations, it may just happen that foreign-based sites will remain as Tippmixpro’s real competitors for Hungarian business.