Google has recently published its annual report on the world’s most searched topics for 2020 and included a surprise entry for Hungary.
This isn’t the first time that Hungary has featured in Google Trends. The tech giant’s annual report collects the world’s most popular search terms and topics from across 70 different countries. In 2018, the then-upcoming national elections, the sad demise of EDM legend Avicii, and the FIFA World Cup were heavily on the minds of Hungary’s residents. While in 2019, the mayoral elections and the fire of Notre Dame were among the most searched topics in the country.
In 2020, however, it appears that Hungarians had something a little different in mind.
Searches for sports betting in Hungary up significantly in 2020
While Malta, Ireland, and Cyprus take the claim as the sports betting capitals of Europe this year, Hungary-specific sports betting searches have seen quite a surge. According to Google Trends, there’s been a 2850% increase in searches for “new sports betting sites Hungary”, putting it straight to the top of the list for the most searched topic.
Despite the increase in searches, however, it transpires that Hungary is in fact among the nations who are least interested in actively participating in sports betting activities.
According to research by an iGaming comparison site, Hungarians rank 20th overall in the world when it comes to actively searching for sports events to place wagers on online, with an average of 0.43 searches per 1,000 of the population.
The iGaming industry in Hungary
Online sports betting is a key vertical in the global iGaming industry, which encompasses all forms of real money gaming, from casinos to poker. While sports betting has exploded in popularity in major gaming regions like Western Europe and the US, it’s still in its early stages of growth here in Hungary.
Real money gaming has been fully legal and regulated in the country since 1991, with both NAV (National Tax and Customs Administration) and the Szerencsejáték Felügyelet (Gaming Supervision Authority) controlling the licensing process and overseeing all gaming activity within the country. There are 11 brick and mortar casinos in operation throughout Hungary, which are also able to launch online casino sites by partnering with foreign iGaming companies.
In recent years, the Hungarian government has taken significant steps to open up the remote gaming market. Operators across major gaming spaces in Western Europe, such as PokerStars, already offer a wide spectrum of online casino games, including traditional favorites like roulette, blackjack and slots. More and more Hungarian-registered platforms are now beginning to do the same.
The first fully-licensed online casino in Hungary went live in 2017.
It was launched in collaboration with Diamond Kft, one of the entertainment companies owned by the world-renowned Hungarian producer and entrepreneur Andrew G. Vagna – who, sadly, passed away in 2019. Since then, a number of online gaming platforms have launched in the region. Online sports betting, however, remains mainly in the hands of Szerencsejáték Zrt.
The state-controlled operator has a monopoly on all sports betting and lottery-related activities in the country, including betting on horse racing and football events online and playing the national lottery online. Meanwhile, in-person bets and lottery purchases can only be made at the licensed offices of Szerencsejáték Zrt. – LOVI.
Hungary’s Gaming Future
Although online sports betting options for residents in Hungary remain limited for the time being, there does seem to be room for expansion in the future. All things considered, Hungary’s iGaming industry is still very much in its early stages, and is set to undergo a process of maturation – much like the country’s eSports industry has expanded in recent years and months.
At least 3.7 million people in the country currently play games regularly, and there are around 200,000 professional eSports gamers resident in Hungary. The Hungarian eSports Federation is now a full member of the International eSports Federation, and the most popular tournament game in the country is Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.
As sister industries, iGaming and eSports are set to expand alongside each other, meaning that it’s only a matter of time before Hungary’s remote gaming scene becomes as vibrant and expansive as the rest of Europe’s.