CJEU Determines Hungarian Gambling Legislation Flouts EU Law

Radical restriction on the principles of free movement, says Court

The European Court of Justice (CJEU) has ruled against Hungarian legislation on the grant of concessions for operating traditional casinos and online gambling, saying it is not compatible with European Union (EU) Law.

The determination is a result of action brought against UK-licensed Sporting Odds whom Hungarian Tax Authorities fined for offering its services in the market.

Sporting Odds asked the Fővárosi Közigazgatási és Munkaügyi Bíróság (Administrative and Labour Court, Budapest, Hungary) to annul the fine, who subsequently forwarded the case to the CJEU for its opinion.

The CJEU ruled that the Hungarian legislation “prevents, in a discriminatory manner, operators of games of chance established in another Member State from having access to the Hungarian market for those games.”

The Court took Hungary to task on legislation that reserves the right to award online casino licenses exclusively to terrestrial casino operators located in the country, saying “this constitutes a discriminatory restriction.

“In that connection, the Court considers that such a radical restriction of the principle of freedom to provide services cannot be justified by the objectives of public order and public health relied on by the Hungarian Government because those objectives may be attained by less restrictive measures,” the ruling reads.