Online gambling is legal in Hungary thanks to significant changes to the law brought about in 2011 and 2013. The industry is subject to an absurd amount of regulations, rules and taxes but that’s all for the courts and Hungarian betting sites to worry about. For the individual gambler, it’s easy to get started at legal online betting sites in Hungary.
Hungarian gambling websites are technically supposed to obtain licenses from the government, but most of the big brands have refused to do citing exorbitant fees and strange licensing conditions. The good news is you can still play wherever you want whether a site has a license or not.
Best Hungary Betting Sites
Playing at unlicensed Hungarian betting sites is not as risky as it sounds. The above online betting sites are not rogue operations run by Somali pirates. These are legitimate gambling companies with licenses in other European countries. In fact, most of these are publicly traded companies complete with stockholders, boards of directors and hundreds of millions of Euros’ worth of gaming revenue.
Of course, there are still bad apples out there and that’s why I recommend you stick with the big name brands. The big brands are not only safer but they’re also capable of accepting deposits in Hungarian forints via banking methods such as Abaqoos, Visa, MasterCard, Neteller, Skrill, Ukash, Click2Pay and wire transfers.
Hungary Gambling Laws
The past few years have been turbulent times for gambling in Hungary. From 1991 to 2011, the state exercised a monopoly over all forms of gaming inside the country. The Gambling Act of 1991 founded the state-owned gaming company Szerencsejáték Zrt. which has exclusive rights to offer sports betting and lottery games. The company also has interests in several land-based casinos.
As internet betting grew in prominence, the government took action and issued vague decrees that it was illegal to gamble online. This had about as much effect in Hungary as similar decrees have had elsewhere, which is absolutely zero effect. Hungarians were happy to play games online anyways and take their business to foreign operators based out of other European nations where online gaming was already legal.
Szerencsejáték Zrt. went online in 1998 and continues to operate to this day at Szerencsejatek.hu. Hungarians can visit the website to play various lotteries, keno and bet on sports. Meanwhile, Hungary remained steadfast in its stance that any other form of online gambling was illegal.
Things changed for the better in 2011 when lawmakers amended the Gambling Act to open the country up to competition from other European operators. The amendments made it possible for private operators from Hungary and other European nations to obtain licenses for online poker and horse racing with the state remaining the sole provider of casino games and sports betting.
These amendments also added new penalties for unlicensed operators targeting Hungarians. ISPs were given the ability to censor the websites of unlicensed gambling sites while the government gave itself the authority to impose heavy fines on such websites. How the government planned to extract those fines from foreign operators is anyone’s guess.
Unfortunately, the licensing process was severely flawed. Annual licensing fees were set at HUF 100 million (roughly €317,000) for each product to be offered by a prospective licensee. Additionally, licensees had to have some sort of physical presence in Hungary or enter a concession agreement with one of the existing land-based casinos. It was such a complicated and expensive process that no European brands even attempted to obtain a license.
So, things continued on as they had before with foreign operators accepting Hungarians contrary to Hungarian law. In 2013, lawmakers announced they were seeking to reform the licensing process and further open the country to competition from outside operators. The new amendments to the Gambling Act would allow gaming websites to obtain licenses for sports betting and casino games in addition to online poker and horse racing betting.
On July 9th, 2014, Hungary adopted the new laws. The final text made it easier for foreign operators to obtain licenses, removed the requirement to have a physical presence and set the tax rate for gaming revenues at 15%. The previous licensing process required applicants to have at least ten years of experience working inside Hungary. That was changed to just three years of experience in the country where the applicant was founded.
Time will tell if the new licensing process is more acceptable to potential operators. Hopefully Hungarian lawmakers have learned from their past mistakes. Hungarians are already gambling online as it is, so it’s just a matter of setting up a reasonable licensing process and making it official.
Hungarian Forint Online Betting Sites
The forint isn’t the most widespread currency in Europe but you can still use it to make deposits and receive withdrawals from the major Hungarian gambling websites. Sites that accept forint deposits allow you to hold your balance in forints but automatically convert your currency to Euros or dollars when you place bets or join poker tables.
Daily currency exchange rates are used to make these conversions so you’ll always get a fair deal. The sites that I recommend near the top of this page also accept Hungary-specific deposit methods such as credit cards and Abaqoos among others.
You can receive your winnings via bank wire, paper check or any of the numerous e-wallets that serve the online gambling industry. Most deposits are processed within 24 hours and take up to 3 business days to hit your bank account. In the end, you’ll find it easy to get up and running.
Mike Murphy is the founder of OnlineBettingSites.com and has over 10 years of experience in the legal online betting industry. A regular attendee of industry trade shows and conferences, Mike is a strong proponent of regulated markets and responsible gambling policies.