The Hungarian legislation on the authorisation of online games of chance is not compatible with the principle of the freedom to provide services, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) ruled on Thursday.
The Luxembourg-based court said in a press release that the legislation limited, in a discriminatory manner and by reason of its non-transparent nature, the opportunity for operators established in other member states to organise such games in Hungary.
In 2014, the Hungarian authorities established that Unibet International, a company established in Malta, was providing, on Hungarian-language internet sites, services relating to games of chance even though it did not hold the licence required in Hungary to carry on such an activity, the court said in a press release. The Hungarian authorities ordered that access be temporarily blocked from Hungary to Unibet’s internet sites and later imposed a fine on the company, it added.
The court ruled that the Hungarian legislation which prohibits the organisation of games of chance without prior licensing by the administrative authorities, constitutes a restriction of the principle of the freedom to provide services.
It added that according to the Hungarian legislation operators of games of chance were required, in order to be deemed “trustworthy”, to demonstrate that they had, for a period of at least 10 years, carried out an activity involving the organisation of games of chance in Hungary. The court ruled that such a requirement constitutes a difference in treatment because it places operators of games of chance established in other member states at a disadvantage in comparison with national operators, who may more easily meet that condition.