The European Court of Justice (CJEU) has ruled against Hungary’s gambling regime, in a move that has been welcomed by the The European Gaming & Betting Association (EGBA).
In a case brought by EU-licensed online gaming operator Sporting Odds, the CJEU has ruled that the Hungarian legislation on providing licenses is not compatible with the principle of freedom to provide services, guaranteed under Article 56 of the EU Treaty.
Hungarian requirements to have an offline casino in order to be allowed to run online casino games has been ruled as clear violation of EU law by the CJEU, who have also prohibited enforcement by authorities based on current gambling legislation, which is ruled to be “not in line with the EU freedom to provide services.”
Maarten Haijer, Secretary General of EGBA, said: “Today’s judgement by the Court of Justice is very clear: no Member State can require an offline activity as a prerequisite to provide online gambling services as this is in conflict with EU law.
“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 Member States are to an extent free to regulate gambling according to their policy objectives, the overall framework is set by EU law.”
The CJEU added that the decision confirms a previous preliminary ruling regarding Unibet and the Hungarian tax authority, “concerning decisions taken by that authority ordering the temporary closure of access to Unibet’s websites, accessible through the Internet domains hu.unibet.com and hul.unibet.com.”
Reiterating its decision it was added “that Member States cannot bring any enforcement action, including any form of administrative sanctions such as fines and blocking measures, against EU-licensed online gaming operators if the national legislation is in breach of EU law.”
The EGBA welcomed the decision against Hungarian licensing regulations, stating that it’s “a significant step in providing further legal clarity to online gambling regulation in Europe”