Recent developments in Hungarian gambling laws have thrown the local poker industry into a world of confusion. The issues all started with the scheduled reform of a law regarding policy toward gambling that was first introduced in 1991.
The new legislation seems to be focused on limiting the poker industry outside of casinos. According to the modifications, the maximum registration fee in tournaments can only be HUF 50,000 ($263). It also limits the locations where players can play poker and limits the number of tables in poker clubs to 10. The small profit that can be made when all of these rules are followed will then be taxed at up to 25% making it unprofitable to run poker rooms.
According to the leader of the Hungarian Poker Association, Gergely Tatar, the current government is using this law to put poker rooms out of business and drive all gambling traffic into casinos.
Poker is by far one of the most popular forms of gambling in the country and there are tens of thousands of players active. Evidence of this can be seen both on land and on online poker sites in Hungary. On Tuesday, December 22, a demonstration against the new legislation was held at one of the cities main metro stops.
The legislation in its current form is not good for any of the parties involved. If passed into law, many poker rooms will be forced to shut down, and the government will not be able to collect on their profits. The restrictions that are in place also prevent large-scale international tournaments from taking place. Such tournaments would be comparable to Formula 1 races held in the country when profits are taken into consideration.
Due to the lack of flexibility on the part of the government, many players are driven to internet gambling in Hungary. This too is prevented by the government, however, because many sites are based and licensed in countries that have legal internet gambling, they have no jurisdiction over players. The Hungarian Poker Association has asked the country’s president, Laszlo Solyom, to send the bill back to parliament for further consideration.