The European Court of Justice has ruled that the Hungarian government requirements for online operators are a violation of EU law.
The case was brought by the EU-licensed operator, Sporting Odds Limited.
At the moment, all of the operators who want to provide service in the country must have an offline casino with a valid license as well.
The CJEU ruled that the current legislation of the Hungarian authorities cannot be forced since they are not in line with the freedom of service in the EU, which is guaranteed under Article 56 of the EU Treaty. Therefore, member states have no right to use any kind of administrative sanctions, like blocking measures or fines.
The European Gaming and Betting Association welcomed the ruling. Secretary general of the organization, Maarten Haijer said: “We are pleased that the CJEU has concluded this once and for all. Restrictive requirements like these, that discriminate against operators, who are entitled to provide their services in a Member State, have no place in the EU. It is clear that, even if the Member States are to an extent free to regulate gambling according to their policy objectives, the overall framework is set by EU law.”
CJEU had ruled in favor of another online gaming operator last year, when Unibet filed a lawsuit against the National Tax and Customs Administration of Hungary, with similar arguments, so it was no surprise to see the similar outcome in this case.
However, the Ministry of Justice of Hungary has issued a statement after the CJEU announced its decision, stating that Hungarian authorities will continue to fight against those who operate illegally in the country.