Hungarian regulator resumes blocks against unlicensed gambling sites and affiliates

Hungary has partly opened its gambling market to competition.
Hungary has partly opened its gambling market to competition.

The SZTFH says it has blocked 450 domains.

Hungary.- The Hungarian Supervisory Authority for Regulatory Affairs (SZTFH) has announced that it has blocked a number of gambling sites and affiliates that were operating without a local licence. The regulator said that 450 domains had been blocked for offering online casino, sport betting and cryptocurrency gambling.

The sites include several big names, such as Unibet, BetOnline, Intertops, PokerStars, Parimatch, Playzilla and Rabona. Unlicensed operators have been involved in legal arguments with the Hungarian authorities. The SZTFH began blocking unlicensed sites in 2014, and several operators launched lawsuits arguing that Hungary’s stance on gambling contravenes European law.

A 2017 decision by the European Court of Justice resulted in all blocks against the sites of operators based in the European Union being lifted. However, the government last year moved to partly open the Hungarian gambling market to competition. It believes this means it is now in compliance with European law. As such, the regulator is reintroducing blocks for operators that do not have local licences.

The conditions imposed require operators to have held an online casino or sports betting licence in another EEA country for at least five years before applying for a Hungarian licence. Some operators have voluntarily left the market as a result.

In July last year, the SZTFH announced new rules that allowed it to limit deposits and withdrawals to and from bank accounts that are identified as engaging in gambling via unlicensed sites. It also gained the power to order banks to reject card payments to unlicensed gambling sites.

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