The European Court of Justice has ruled that the Hungarian government requirement for operators to have an offline casino to be allowed to offer online casino igaming is a clear violation of EU law.


In a case that was brought by EU-licensed operator Sporting Odds, the ruling also prevents enforcement by Hungarian authorities based on its current gambling legislation. It is not in line with the freedom to provide services in the EU, as guaranteed under Article 56 of the EU Treaty.

The European Gaming and Betting Association welcomed the ruling, which serves to reinforce the CJEU’s previous judgment against Hungary’s licensing regulations, stating that it “is a significant step in providing further legal clarity to online gambling regulation in Europe.

The CJEU is leaving it for the Hungarian Court to determine whether the current system – with some online gambling products subject to a monopoly, with others licensed – attains public policy objectives in a consistent and systematic manner.

The ruling also confirms the CJEU’s previous preliminary ruling. 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.

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 pre-requisite 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."