When the country’s government decided to alter Hungarian gambling laws almost overnight, in order to ban all slots outside casinos, the main reason cited for the rush was some kind of a “national security concern”.
The abrupt move that caught the industry off-guard was never fully explained and left all observers baffled.
Last Friday, however, some clarifications were finally provided in the case by Szandor Pinter, the minister supervising the country’s secret services, during a closed session of the parliamentary national security committee.
Although the general public is still not privy to the exact reasons behind last year’s drastic changes to pub-based Hungarian gambling, news reports were almost immediately filled with leaks by those present at last week’s hearing.
Most sources agree that the written report presented at the meeting contained information that was “harsher” than anything that had been mentioned before and raises questions of criminal liability.
The report allegedly mentions the names of politicians, though the exact context remains unclear. Meanwhile, industry rumors persist about certain “improper personal liaisons”, which may have contributed to the swift decision in October.
Regardless of the exact content, these developments are unlikely to impede the upcoming liberalization of the Hungarian online gambling market. Indeed, they have catalyzed the liberalization process by creating the need to replace lost slot revenues through other channels, and opening the door to online sportsbooks and online casinos in Hungary.