Malta requires Hungary to clarify licensing conditions to EU member states

Malta has become the first EU member state to submit a ‘detailed opinion’ on Hungary’s draft proposals to reform its online gambling laws, ending its state-owned monopoly regime.

Last February, the government of Hungary notified the European Commission (EC) of its plans to review draft proposals that will establish a new regime liberalising its domestic online gambling marketplace.

Back in 2017, The EC formally demanded that Hungary reform its online gambling laws due to the European Court of Justice (ECEJ) appeal wins for Unibet (Kindred Group) and former GVC Holdings brand Sporting Odds.

The Malta-based operators had challenged regulatory changes sanctioned in 2014 that the ECEJ deemed to have directly benefited state-owned gambling operator Szerencsejáték Zrt, which provided unrestricted market advantages against competition.

The ECEJ ordered Hungary’s Gambling Supervisory Unit to redraft laws to ensure that market competition rules were aligned with those of the European Economic Area (EEA). Yet, despite its judgement, the ECEJ placed no timeframe for Hungary to propose a new framework governing its gambling laws. 

In February, Hungary submitted its draft proposal to the EC, in which reforms outlined that operator licensing would be unrestricted for EU-registered businesses.

Draft documents notified that licences will be excluded for operators ‘who have organised gambling without a licence in an EEA State during the ten years preceding the application’ – a requirement that Malta has asked Hungary to clarify.

Malta’s opinion further highlights potential conflicts on the market’s technical arrangements, as the draft has not updated tech and IT provisions for laws that have existed since 1991

Further, Malta feedback cited that Hungary must provide detailed oversight on the technical parameters for licensed operators to provide online casino games.

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