Hungary Not Playing By the Euroepan Union Gambling Rules

Published Wednesday, February 28, 2018 -
Hungary Not Playing By the Euroepan Union Gambling Rules

UK online gambling operator Sporting Odds Ltd, a subsidiary of Sportingbet was recently fined (US$13,600) for offering services to Hungarian gamblers without a proper license. The case before the European Union’s Court of Justice has issued a preliminary ruling.

The High Court ruled that Hungary was in violation of the rules for E.U. member state inclusion and that its refusal to allow online gambling companies to gain a licence unless it operated a local land-based casino were incompatible with the E.U. interpretation of the laws. Hungary has been maintaining that  the nation’s gambling regulations were intended to minimize potential harm caused by problem gambling habits. The European Court of Justice is being firm in its commitment to create a level playing field for operators and countries that are keeping their gambling monopolies.

CJEU was straight forward when make its ruling saying this land-based prerequisite that obtaining a Hungarian online gambling licenses depends on, “does not constitute a condition indispensable to the achievement of the desired objectives, and that there are less restrictive measures which are capable of attaining them.”

Article 56 of the Treaty and Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), which prohibits unnecessary restrictions on trade in goods and services between EU member states is being sidestepped by the Hungarian government. This is the second time the government of Hungary has been taken to task for the violation of this basic principle by the Court of Justice for the European Union. A ruling last June in a case involving the Kindred Group’s Unibet, the CJEU stated Hungary’s requirement for online gambling licensees to have established 10 years of “trustworthy” activity in the country to be “discriminatory and contrary”

Hungary’s online gambling market is dominated by the state-owned Szerencsejáték Zrt betting monopoly and it appears the monopoly will remain for the time being after the government approved  amendments to its gambling legislation that requires local financial institutions to block all payments regarding unauthorized gambling sites.


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