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CJEU advocate questions legality of Hungary’s online gambling law



As it’s already known Unibet International Ltd. has confronted the government of Hungary due to alleged irregularities during the licensing process, the EU officials urged the country’s authorities to review the legislation of their iGaming industry. Unibet’s platform was temporary blocked by the Hungarian authorities for not possessing the corresponding permissions, although the brand considers them impossible to obtain.

Maciej Szpunar, an advocate general of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), has criticized online gambling laws in Hungary, saying they may be in violation of the EU tenet of freedom to provide services. Szpunar was responding to a request for a preliminary ruling from the Budapest Administrative and Labor Court in the case of Unibet International Ltd. vs. Hungaryʼs National Tax and Customs Administration (NAV). In the case, Malta-registered online gaming service provider Unibet International Ltd. is contesting decisions the Hungarian authorities have made blocking its operations in the country by citing unlicensed activity.

In order to provide online gaming services in Hungary, a company is required to register with NAV, according to recent changes to related laws. According to Unibet International Ltd., the distribution of licenses does not take place lawfully, and it has questioned the transparency of the process as a basis of its complaint. According to Unibet, local rules on licensing violate the principle of freedom to provide services enshrined in the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU).

“On the basis of the foregoing considerations, I propose that the Court answer the questions referred by the Fővárosi Közigazgatási és Munkaügyi Bíróság (Budapest Administrative and Labor Court, Hungary) as follows: Article 56 TFEU precludes national legislation such as that at issue in the main proceedings, that provides that an operator of online games of chance, legally established in another EU Member State, has the theoretical possibility of obtaining a license when that operator is, in fact, impeded from obtaining a license due to the system being either discriminatory or lacking the requirements of proportionality or transparency,” concluded Szpunar.


Dan Iliovici - ONJNIn other related news, Romania’s National Gambling Office (ONJN) has appointed Dan Iliovici (Executive Manager – Rombet) as its new president. Dan Iliovici assumes the leadership of the Romanian gambling regulator from Odeta Nestor, who has served as its president since 2013 and oversaw the introduction of new gambling regulations last year.

In our dealings with Dan we found him to be a straight forward person,” said the ONJN in a statement.



Andy Vajna wins operating licence for Hungary’s 1st online casino



An interest of Hollywood movie producer Andy Vajna, turned government commissioner in charge of Hungary’s film industry has been granted the operating licence for Hungary’s first ever online casino by the National Tax and Customs Office (NAV). LVC Diamond Ltd. told state-owned news wire MTI on Tuesday that player registration will soon start on the website. MTI somehow forgot to mention the relationship between the company and Andrew G. Vajna.

The operating licence is valid until 31 December 2024, according to data published on the website of the NAV. MTI also reports that gamblers could pay with their plastics, pre-paid cards, bank transfers or even e-wallet, and will be able to sue 24/7 online customer services both in English and Hungarian.

Las Vegas Casino Group, has been operating five casinos in Budapest in the last two years. It was the first to receive concession from the National Economy Ministry in agreement with the National Development Ministry in 2014.

Las Vegas Casino Group posted HUF 14.34 billion revenue in 2015, when its after-tax profit amounted to HUF 4.1 bn.

The announcement wasn’t really a surprise, because the amended gambling law which came into effect in October 2015 stipulated that only those may operate casinos that have obtained a licence from the Hungarian state.

Andy Vajna is operating his casinos in a rather complex web of businesses. Las Vegas Casino Ltd. is owned by Luxembourg-based Las Vegas Casino s.á.r.l., which is owned by another Luxembourg-based company, AV Investments s.á.r.l. (AV aka Andy Vajna).

Although the casino website, is not yet fully functional, we’re already eagerly waiting for it’s official launch.

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