In Budapest, and in many other parts of the world, the number of opportunities for people to leave their apartment and have fun has greatly decreased. You can have food or coffee to take away in restaurants and cafes, but theatres and cinemas are closed, and there are no sporting events. In Budapest, however, there seems to be an exception that is not subject to restrictions.
Casinos are awaiting customers in many parts of Budapest. The largest and most popular franchise is the Las Vegas Casino network, which has 5 casinos all around Budapest. The largest is the 1,200-square-metre one, called Las Vegas Casino Corvin Sétány, while the smallest is Tropicana, located in the centre of Budapest near the Danube bank.
The 5 casinos offer nearly a total of 4,000 slot machines and several other live tables and services on a total floor space of more than 4,000 square metres.
Las Vegas Casino says on their website that people over the age of 18 can visit every day of the year, 24 hours a day, without any special dress code. The coronavirus has intervened in the life of the casino, as it is currently only open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.
However, it is incomprehensible to many that while restaurants and entertainment venues are closed and trying to survive the pandemic with minimal government support, casinos can operate almost smoothly.
Some say the reason is that the casino industry is owned by oligarchs connected to Fidesz.
A political movement called Polgári Válasz (Civic Response) has also organised a demonstration to voice their dissatisfaction. According to them, the reason casinos are open is simply that the members of Fidesz keep the interests of their acquaintances in mind, as opposed to the epidemiological interests. In February, the Las Vegas Casino Corvin Sétány was closed due to the work of activists. They also posted a video on their Facebook page which you can watch HERE.
Several people asked the authorities why casinos could be open while other catering and entertainment facilities, such as cinemas and theatres, could not have visitors. The response came from János Fónagy, Secretary of State in the Prime Minister’s Office, in February. In his reply to Péter Ungvár, Member of Parliament for LMP, Fónagy said: “casinos do not count as a catering unit, so they can stay open.”
However, it is still questionable why they do not qualify as a catering unit, as visitors normally have the possibility to eat and drink inside casinos.