Online Casinos in Hungary and Gambling Laws, Regulations, Taxes
Gambling in Hungary: Summary
|Gambling: Fully legal|
Online Gambling: Fully legal
Legal age for gambling: 18+
According to a law from 2014, private entities can apply for poker and casino licenses but can’t participate in lotto and bingo gambling. The Hungarian market is open to new operators, but companies must have a certain amount of capital and pay a one-time fee when applying for a license. For the most part, sports betting and online sports betting in Hungary are controlled by Games of Chance cPLC (Szerencsejáték Zrt. in Hungarian). This is a state-owned company that, until recently, had a full monopoly of the market. In February 2022, the Hungarian parliament introduced some major changes opening the market to private entities.
History of gambling in Hungary
The first Hungarian gambling laws date back to the 18th century or 1752, to be precise. According to this legislation, the Habsburg family could give a full monopoly to any entity or individual of their choosing.
Although gambling was initially a fantastic pastime for the Hungarian elite and commoners alike, the interest decreased during the mid-19th century. This was mostly because of the poverty that was rampant in the country.
Things changed with the 1848 War of Independence. After winning the conflict, Franz Joseph the First decided to reform the sector by establishing Royal Lotto Directorate.
In 1989, the Hungarians created Szerencsejáték Zrt. which, to this day, remains the most powerful organization in the country. In fact, for more than two decades, they had full control over the country’s gambling. Due to the EU pressure, Hungary changed its gambling laws in 2013, 2014, and 2022, opening the market for outside companies.
Hungary’s gambling laws
Throughout its history, state-owned organizations have governed gambling in this Central European country. Things changed in 2013 and 2014 with the introduction of a completely new licensing system.
In many ways, Hungary was forced to implement these alterations. International companies started a dispute against the regime by stating that the current legislation is against EU law. They brought their cases to the CJEU (Court of Justice of the European Union) and local courts.
Although the country had its set of legislation and a working licensing system, it couldn’t be applied because it went against EU laws. In 2013 and 2014, the country introduced a new set of laws that would allow foreign operators to apply for traditional gambling licenses. In 2022, they broadened this licensing system to encompass online gambling.
Available and prohibited games
Szerencsejáték Zrt. has full autonomy over bingo, lottery and sports betting. Until recently, they also had a monopoly over online sports betting, online lottery, and online bingo. This changed with the introduction of 2022, which allows private operators to offer iGambling services.
When it comes to land-based games, you are limited to public betting shops, public horse racing, and licensed casinos. There are also certain licensed stores where you can buy scratchcards. Players don’t have access to slot machines, which were completely banned in 2012.
Nowadays, private entities can apply for poker, casino, and certain iGaming licenses.
The government doesn’t regulate fantasy sports betting, skin gambling, loot boxes, and social gambling.
Issues and limitations
Similarly to other European countries, there is a lot to be desired when it comes to licensing. Although the country has its laws, they aren’t fully compliant with EU legislation. In a way, this makes the current laws out of effect. Due to this legal discrepancy, there are constant disputes and litigations between the EU institutions and Hungarian officials.
For the most part, Hungarian legislation seems compliant with the existing EU laws. In other words, a private entity can apply for a traditional casino license which they can later use to establish an online casino. However, in practice, getting a license is extremely hard. The government usually denies applicants, and there are rumors of corruption, preventing companies from getting official approval.
The only way for a foreign company to do business in the Hungarian market is by getting a license. Unfortunately, it’s really hard to get the approval as there are only 11 available slots (all occupied as of this moment). Most operators accept Hungarian players illegally without having the necessary documents.
Although this is an illegal practice, where players and casinos can be legally persecuted, the Hungarian government almost never takes action.
Hungary gambling licensing
All gambling in Hungary is regulated by the National Tax and Customs Administration of Hungary (NAV short) and the Gambling Supervisory Authority. The latter decides which operators can get the license. The Gambling Supervisory Authority is also in charge of monitoring the related activities within the country.
Keep in mind that the institutions’ websites are only available in Hungarian, so you should refer to third-party sites when looking for information. Of course, we will do our best to provide all the relevant data that would allow you to play safely in the country.
Private operators can only apply for these licenses:
- Traditional casino license that also includes poker
- Online casino license that also includes online poker
As previously mentioned, the law allows the existence of only 11 traditional casinos in the whole country. Today, all of these casinos are operational, so the only way for a new company to appear on the market is to take the place of existing ones.
The number of brick-and-mortar licenses also stifles online gambling. Given that the only way to run an online casino is by having a traditional casino, this effectively means that the number of online casinos is also capped at 11.
In theory, new operators can enter the market by partnering with existing casinos.
There are several things that an operator has to fulfill to be eligible for a license. First and foremost, they need a local presence so they can even apply. However, foreign stakeholders can create a local subsidiary that would act on their behalf.
Here are some ground rules pertaining to statutory capital:
- Casino operators should have between 100 million to 1 billion Forints of capital. The sum varies based on the casino class.
- Card club and poker operators should have more than 25 million Forints.
The amount of time it takes to obtain the license depends on the activity. For arcade machines, you can get a permit within 15 days. As for all other activities, it takes up to 75 days to procure the license. The length of the permit also varies based on the activity:
- 5 years for the lottery
- 5 years for remote gambling
- 15 years for card clubs
- 35 years for land-based casinos
Hungary has one of the second-highest casino licensing fees in Europe at 116 million Forints (approximately 335,000 Euros). The good thing is that you can deduct this sum from future taxes.
Hungary gambling tax
The country doesn’t have a specific income tax that would regulate casinos’ profits. Instead, they rely on other legal clauses to determine how much the operators have to pay on an annual basis. All casinos (traditional and online) adhere to the following taxation rules:
- Casinos that have annual revenue of less than 10 billion Forints have to pay 30% of total revenue.
- Casinos that have annual revenue above 10 billion Forints have to pay 3 billion Forints plus 10% on the revenue exceeding 10 billion Forints.
In other words, the country stimulates successful operators. As soon as you make above 10 billion Forints, you only have to pay 10% for extra revenues. Taxation is completely different for lottery and sports betting. Here are the taxes for other game categories:
- The monthly lottery tax is 24% of the prize pool
- The monthly keno tax is 24% of the prize pool
- The monthly totalizer tax is 17% of the prize pool
- The monthly joker tax is 17% of the prize pool
- The monthly bingo tax is 17% of the prize pool
- The monthly tax on other games is 17% of the prize pool
- Sports betting tax is 20% of paid winnings
- Online sports betting tax is 15% of paid winnings
The only exception to taxation rules is horse betting. Operators within this field don’t have to pay anything; as long as they have a brick-and-mortar business (online horse betting is taxable).
Aside from monthly taxes, companies still pay regular taxes.
As for players, they don’t have to pay any taxes as long as they gamble in licensed casinos and sports betting companies. However, they’re liable to taxation if they make money from unlicensed casinos and gambling outlets.
Types of gambling in Hungary
Although the gambling industry might look restrictive for companies, players have full freedom to explore different options. Like in most other countries, the majority of the population is interested in things such as the lotto. However, true gamblers stick to casino games and sports betting.
Casino in Hungary
Casino gambling: legal except for slot halls, licensing required
Online casino gambling: fully legal, licensing required
Casino gambling has been regulated according to the law since 1991. These are one of the few gambling games in Hungary that allow foreign capital. At this moment, there are only 11 casino licenses available, and all operators with licenses are currently active. Budapest has the highest number of casinos (five).
The selection of casino games resembles the section in other countries. In other words, players can choose between roulette, blackjack, and poker. However, they don’t have access to lottery-like games and sports betting within casinos.
Best Online Casinos in Hungary
If you wish to gamble in Hungary, there are several incredible places to visit. There are a total of 11 licensed casinos in the country, all of which have solid reputations. If that isn’t enough, you can try your luck with a foreign operator.
Having trouble finding a reliable online casino in Hungary?
Finding a reliable operator in Hungary is quite a chore. The market was partially deregulated in 2022, so we currently have a major influx of gambling companies. To help you out, MICS.org analyzed the available operators and created a comprehensive list of trusted online casinos in Hungary.
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How to choose the best online casino in Hungary?
If you’re looking for a reputable casino in Hungary, there are a few things you need to focus on:
- Payment options
- Bonuses and features
- Initial deposit
Here is a short breakdown of every element:
Online gambling always carries certain risks. This is why it’s essential to find a reputable site where your money can be safe. According to user reviews and our research, there are a few reliable organizations in Hungary worth checking out. Keep in mind that online gambling was only recently deregulated, so most of these online casinos are new to the local market.
No matter where you are, a casino should have an appropriate license to run its business. Similar to other countries, the only way to provide these services in Hungary is to get the necessary documentation from Gambling Supervisory Authority.
These licenses are used for both traditional casinos and online casinos. At this moment, there are only 11 casino slots in the country, and the only way to get a license is to buy it from other market participants.
3. Payment options
Given that all online payment transactions are virtual, you’ll need a credit or a debit card to gamble in Hungary. Some casinos also allow money transfers and direct online payments, but there are less common forms of payment.
Ideally, you should look for Hungarian operators who have several payment options at their disposal. This would, at least, provide some flexibility. People often choose a casino based on the cards they accept.
4. Bonuses and features
Gifts and bonuses are common when it comes to online gambling. In fact, they have become so common that it would be a red flag if a company doesn’t offer one. These freebies might include things such as free plays, spins, or tickets, welcome packages, bonuses on your first winning, etc.
Operators in Hungary are well aware of their competition and their offers. So, they’re often trying to outdo them by offering better freebies. Although these bonuses are fantastic, you shouldn’t focus too much on them when choosing a casino.
There’s no point in choosing an online casino if they don’t feature your favorite games. Reputation and gifts alone aren’t good enough to choose a specific operator if you don’t enjoy yourself. Like in many other countries, poker is one of the preferred online gambling games in Hungary, with sports betting not far behind it.
6. Initial deposit
A lot of casinos in Hungary offer free games to new players. However, these offers are more like a demo mode. In most cases, you’ll still need to make an initial deposit even when trying out freebies.
Ideally, you should choose a casino that doesn’t require a high initial deposit. Some of them allow players to put down a measly $5 to start enjoying themselves. For veteran players, the initial deposit isn’t that relevant, especially if they’ve already decided to stick with a particular operator.
Lotto in Hungary
Lotto gambling: legal, Szerencsejáték Zrt. has a full monopoly on game organization
Online lotto gambling: legal, Szerencsejáték Zrt. has a full monopoly on game organization
Lottery, or simply lotto, is the longest-running, state-organized gambling activity in the country. The game is popular among all layers of society, and Hungary makes significant revenues out of it. Players can choose between games such as 5-os and 6-os Lotto, Keno, Skandinav Lotto, and a few others.
The country has made significant strides in digitalizing the process. Nowadays, you no longer have to visit a local tobacco shop to buy tickets. Instead, you can get them online by visiting the official website.
Hungarians simply love their lotto, and they also participate in Eurojackpot and the European lottery. Domestic players can have fun with the game during their vacations abroad and pick up winnings in foreign countries. There are no limitations or any legal ramifications against it.
Bingo in Hungary
Bingo gambling: legal, Szerencsejáték Zrt. has a full monopoly on game organization
Online bingo gambling: legal, Szerencsejáték Zrt. has a full monopoly on game organization
Bingo is one of the least popular games in Hungary. Unlike the lotto, Hungarians don’t have a history of playing bingo. A single bingo hall was opened in 2009, but it closed its doors soon after.
Although the game is classified as a form of gambling for all intended purposes, very few people perceive it as such. It’s mostly played in retirement homes and hotels as a pastime for the elderly. Given the low demand, neither the government nor the operators see any benefit in investing in bingo halls.
Like with most other lottery-like activities, Szerencsejáték Zrt. has full control of bingo. Similar to private operators, the government-led organization has little interest in bingo. They don’t own any bingo halls, and they don’t have any plans for opening one.
Poker in Hungary
Poker gambling: legal, licensing required
Online poker gambling: legal, licensing required
As you can presume, poker is the most appealing game in this category. You can find it just about any casino you go to. Unfortunately, you can rarely find poker rooms to play against other players. In most cases, you’ll have to settle for house-banked sessions.
Aside from casinos, you can also play this game in specialized poker clubs. Right now, there are four clubs in the country:
- Texas Poker Club (Szolnok)
- Duna Poker Budapest (Budapest)
- Palace Poker (Club Szombathely)
- Big Cash Poker Club Nyiergyhaza (Nyiergyhaza)
When it comes to major tournaments, players can try their luck at the Budapest Poker open. If you’re more into poker machines, you would be glad to hear that this type of entertainment is also available in the country.
To open a poker website, a company needs to have an official license issued by the Gambling Supervisory Authority. Sites that don’t have the appropriate documentation are blocked by the NAV. Keep in mind that these laws are mostly irrelevant to the players, and they can enjoy the game on foreign websites.
Sports betting in Hungary
Sports betting: legal, Tippmix has a full monopoly on game organization
Online sports betting: legal, Tippmix has a full monopoly on game organization
Like in most other countries, sports betting has become increasingly popular in the last few decades. Right now, all the gambling is organized and supervised by Tippmix, a Szerencsejáték Zrt’s subsidiary. The majority of Hungarians place their money on football matches, but water polo, athletics, and swimming are also popular.
You can find a betting shop at just about any corner, most of which also sell scratch and lottery tickets. Unlike sports betting, horse betting isn’t that popular. This might be one of the reasons why it isn’t taxed.
Horse betting is supervised by a company called Kincsem. Although this type of gambling was extremely popular back in the day, it has lost its charm in the last few decades. This is because Hungarians are no longer as enamored with the sport as they were in the past.
Online sports betting isn’t as common as traditional brick-and-mortar sports betting. The majority of players prefer going to the local outlet, where they can also watch their favorite teams live.
Recently, Hungary has enacted a law that should make it easier for foreign companies to penetrate their online betting market. However, the regulatory bodies are still vigilant when it comes to penalizing unlicensed operators. Similar to other types of betting, there’s no punishment for citizens who place their bet on an unlicensed website.
When it comes to fantasy betting and e-sports, there’s a lot to be desired. Hungary still hasn’t created a separate regulation for these games, which are categorized under the umbrella of sports betting. As such, they adhere to the same laws and are regulated by Szerencsejáték Zrt.