Hungary, once part of the great Austro-Hungarian Empire, is known around the world as the country that gave us Frank Liszt, some of the most delicious meat-based meals and football icon Ferenc Puskas. Of course, one can’t rule out their beautiful women and talented football players such as Adam Szalai, Dominik Szoboszlai or Roland Sallai, all playing at top German or Austrian football teams. From a betting perspective, Hungary started regulating the landscape a lot earlier compared to its neighbouring countries. As early as 1991 the first Gambling Act was passed and it legalized all forms of gambling and that boosted the activity seen from Hungary betting sites. Roughly 40% of the adult population in Hungary participates in online gambling. However, with the state monopoly over online betting, punters often choose to play at international betting sites. And since not all international bookies offer top-quality services, we’re bringing you the best Hungary betting websites to enjoy.
Gambling was legalized in Hungary in 1991 when the country’s first Gambling Act was passed. So, the answer to “is betting illegal in Hungary?” is a clear “No”. The Gambling Act turned the Hungarian market into a fully regulated one and represents the first step towards allowing betting sites in Hungary to operate. Furthermore, the Act also established the NAV – National Tax and Customs Administration – as the authority to oversee all gambling activities. However, the same law stated that all the operators allowed to participate in gambling activities had to be majority-owned by the state.
With all the betting sites available in Hungary basically silenced and the state monopoly legalized, Szerencsejáték Zrt quickly became the only option for betting in Hungary. And things remained unchanged until 2007 when the European Commission decided to closely examine Hungary’s betting laws.
What followed was a period of protests, complaints, and disagreements that eventually lead to some amendments in the Hungarian legislation. 2012 marks the moment of the first amendments to the 1991 Gambling Act. The new laws allowed other operators to offer gambling services – that were based in Hungary or any other EEA state. 2013 brought even more amendments that further opened up the market for online gambling and international operators.
However, with very high taxation levels – 15% of net revenue – and equally steep entry fees, no operators felt that Hungary was a good market to open up shop in. To make matters even less attractive for international bookies, the annual licensing fees were set at HUF 100 million (roughly €317,000)
Furthermore, despite being pressured by the EUCJ, the authorities didn’t make any progress in clarifying the guidelines on how to apply for a license. Despite seeming positive for liberalizing the market, the authorities still do their best to maintain the state monopoly in place, despite strong opposition from the big bookmakers and the EU. The case of Unibet made the news as Kindred’s brand involved the European Court of Justice regarding efforts of the Hungarian authorities to shut down their activity in the territory. Ultimately, despite the EU’s pro-competition and laissez-faire stance, Hungary was allowed to regulate gambling at her own discretion.
With the state monopoly still in place in Hungary, betting companies that still target the market have no real difficulties in providing better services than what the legal alternative provides. This means providing high odds on a multitude of football, tennis and basketball betting markets, quick payouts and versatile features – like early cashout. Of course, since they’re focusing on Hungary, sports betting companies that want to stand out also translated their website and offer customer support in Hungarian. Last but not least, all betting Magyar websites offering HUF get extra credits for allowing punters to enjoy betting without worrying about currency exchange fees.
Despite efforts from the Hungarian authorities to block access to foreign betting sites, cases like the one we mentioned earlier with Unibet, stand to show that they can’t really block the access of any bookie as long as they don’t offer clear conditions for them to apply for a license. So, without clear legislation in place, Hungarian bookmakers can’t get exclusivity on the market. Even if the authorities block certain domains – most of the time without having the law on their side – betting in Hungary at top international bookmakers can still be achieved through VPN apps.
In 2017, Hungary amended the gambling laws one more time to include payment restrictions to and from unlicensed betting operators. Of course, betting companies in Hungary immediately urged their players to switch to ewallets since the government couldn’t control payments made that way. It didn’t take long until these laws were also submitted to the European Commission for approval and like we mentioned there was no decision taken regarding the legitimacy of these restrictions, authorities keep applying the restrictions. In the meantime, credit card payments and bank transfers are not viable payment options for foreign betting sites, that’s why we recommend ewallets and even cryptocurrency for betting Magyarul.
Since not even one big bookmaker didn’t manage to really penetrate the market, talking about betting exchanges sounds like a dream for Hungarian punters. However, we all know that where there’s a will, there’s a way so all the big betting exchanges can still be accessed through a VPN. Betfair, Betdaq or Smarkets are excellent examples of exchanges that reward their players with hugely diverse betting offers and appealing bonuses as well.
If you’re betting on Szerencsejáték Zrt, the state-monopoly betting site, you can address the NAV about any complaints or wrongdoings. Otherwise, the licensing authorities of European-licensed bookies are the main point of contact. MGA and UKGC have contact forms on their websites so you can easily reach them in case there’s something wrong with your experience at a bookie licensed by them. Don’t forget that we’re also here to help so drop us a message describing your situation and we’ll do our best to assist.