Hungary's Draconian Gambling Laws Compound Poker Players' WoesMay 11, 2010 8:02 am
Ever since Hungary amended the Gambling Act of 1991 and introduced it’s new “poker law” on May 1st, the state of the country’s poker industry has been in turmoil with many poker club owners shutting shop and players taking their custom online to foreign poker cardrooms, instead.
Initially, Hungary’s Gambling Act of 1991 was designed to allow the government to exercise control over the country’s gambling establishments, and also redirect poker players away from their preferred poker clubs to casinos.
However, the Draconian laws passed after a December Parliamentary bill defined poker as gambling, have instead negatively affected the industry as a whole as poker players and casinos alike are now subject to a whole series of taxes making the game an unprofitable proposition.
Under the new laws, poker players will have to pay 30% taxes on any winnings, and poker clubs and casinos will have to adhere to a strict set of restrictions including a 15% limit on profits and a 30% tax on revenues. Any infractions of the laws could result in hefty fines or even a prison sentence of up to two years.
Despite Hungary prohibiting online gambling sites from operating inside the country, many poker players have now turned their attention towards playing their favourite game on external foreign owned online poker sites, in order to avoid the heavy taxes.
As the recent move to regulate gambling seems to be backfiring, it is now rumoured that the government is considering even more drastic measures to rein in the industry. The newly elected conservative based Fidesz Party in Hungary is currently believed to be contemplating a country wide ban on online gambling with even the Chairperson of Sports and Tourism, Erik Bánki hugely in favour of such a sweeping move.
As Hungary’s government gets tougher on the poker industry, they risk driving the country’s poker players further underground and creating a whole new group of potential ‘criminals.’