With the online gaming industry soon to be holding a big trade convention in Budapest,
many within the field of Internet casinos, sportsbook and poker are wondering about
Hungary. What sort of market is it? What has happened to the online poker sites in Hungary? And most importantly, what are the parameters of the current Hungarian gambling laws?
The demographics from online casinos in Hungary and the like show phenomenal growth – at least until recently. It is estimated that, of the country’s 3 million active internet users, an incredible 300,000 play at casino or poker websites. Of this 300,000, a big 80% are male, thereby implying that some 16% of Hungarian male internet users play regularly online.
In terms of online sportsbooks in Hungary, the market began with SportingBet’s Hungarian-language offering in 2004. Since then, access to Internet bookmakers with
the national language has increased greatly, despite the fact that by the letter of the law implies that only state-run Szerencsejáték could (and today, a company called Gambling Kft.) provide online gambling in Hungary.
Naturally, the rules within the defining Act XXXIV of 1991 are vague when it comes
to internet gambling and the Poker Act of 2010 provided for legal land-based poker, but stated that online poker was still illegal.
There may yet be hope for liberalization of Hungarian gambling laws, though, as the
newly-elected government has begun the process of yet another “National Gambling
Strategy,” with proposals for regulation of gambling websites. Since former strategies
have been abandoned with each new government, Hungary’s gamblers may be hoping
that this group can stay around for another term.