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Hungary’s parliament has introduced online gaming legislation which opens the market to private online operators, bringing an end to the current state monopoly on sports betting.

Under the new proposals, operators within the European Economic Area will be free to launch online gaming offerings in the country with the permission of Hungary’s gaming regulator. There is so far no limit on the number of permits that can be issued.

Any operators who have offered igaming in Europe without a licence during the ten years before their application will be prohibited from operating in Hungary.

The legislation also allows the use of credit cards for online deposits, provided it is linked with an authorised payment service provider.

Any operator looking to obtain a licence must also have share capital of at least €2.8m. Licence fees will cost €1.7m, paid to the Hungarian State Treasury. Operators are also obliged to provide a minimum guarantee of HUF250m, while the tax rate for operators is yet to be determined.

Changes to the legislation are designed to ensure a higher standard of player protection. Recognising that a more competitive gaming market could encourage excessive gambling, the bill stipulates that a player protection plan be drawn up by the operator “in accordance with the principle of responsible gaming and the protection of players”.

Text within the legislation explains: “In a liberalised online betting market, several private companies are competing with each other, so there is a danger of encouraging excessive gambling instead of maximising the principle of responsible gaming.

“Therefore, the draft aims to liberalize remote gambling by emphasizing the protection of players and introducing guarantee regulatory elements that protect the interests of players.”

The bill is subject to a standstill period following its notification to the European Commission, which runs until 4 May.

The Court of Justice for the European Union (CJEU) ruled in 2017 that Hungary’s online gaming rules were unlawfully excluding European operators from the licencing process.

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