Hungary has sent its new online gambling draft legislation to the European Commission to ensure the plans meet with Brussels’ approval. The proposed legislation would expand Hungary’s legal online offering by adding sports betting and casino games to the existing horseracing and card game options, which are currently taxed at 20% of gross gaming revenue. Prospective licensees would have to pay a minimum HUF100m (US $451k) for each product they wish to offer. Licenses would be for five-year terms, although even assuming the EC signs off on the plan, it could be over a year before any licensed operator is open for business. In the meantime, the state-owned land-based sports bet monopoly Szerencsejáték Zrt (SzRt) is hoping to have its GTech G2-powered Margin Maker online offering taking wagers by this summer.
Hungary also drafted a law to minimize the capacity of unlicensed operators to cut into the country’s licensed business. The government intends to publish a list of unauthorized operators servicing the Hungarian market, and internet service providers (ISPs) would be compelled to block these sites from penetrating Hungarian cyberspace. Failure to comply with this edict would leave ISPs subject to fines of HUF 100k-500k ($450-$2,250) per incident, with the government able to impose the fine as many times as it likes until the ISP sees the error of its ways. GamblingCompliance quoted Budapest-based gambling lawyer Gábor Helembai saying that since the government will decide both the number of licenses and what products licensees are allowed to offer, “presumably not many competitors (if any) will be allowed to operate in Hungary.”
In the Czech Republic, the new owners of lottery operator Sazka have appointed a new CEO. KKCG Investment Group, which took control of the financially struggling Sazka in October, has appointed former T-Mobile Austria managing director Robert Chvatal as Sazka boss effective next month. KKCG says that it will seek ways to utilize Sazka’s 6,500-terminal distribution network to “develop the non-lottery part of its business.”
Olympic Entertainment Group AS, which runs casinos in Eastern Europe and has a video lottery terminal joint venture in Italy, reported revenues at its Baltic casinos rose 5.2% to €22.2m in Q4. Revenues at OEG’s Estonian operations were up 8.1% to €8.8m while full-year numbers were up 12.8% to €31.5m. In Latvia, Q4 revenues were up 1.9% to €8.2m and full-year numbers up 12.7% to €30.8m. In Lithuania, Q4 revenues rose 4.4% to €5.2m, while full-year revenue rose 4.8% to €18.7m. Due to legal requirements in these three countries, OEG reports its Baltic numbers separately from its operations in Belarus, Poland, Slovakia and Italy.