Sportingbet Plc. in dispute with Hungarian Gambling Commission

Major U.K. gambling group Sportingbet Plc., owner of Paradise Poker, is locked in an advertising dispute with the Hungarian Gambling Commission in a European Union (EU) court, it has been reported. According to the Budapest Business Journal (BBJ), a recently enacted law that forbids the advertising and promotion of activities connected to gambling, and threatens to fine those gaming groups that violate the terms of the legislation, is the source of the disagreement.

The new statute, which was passed in November, 2005, effectively prohibits Sportingbet from advertising the Hungarian-language version of its website on the Internet in Hungary.

The U.K. gaming group has resolved to take its case to the European Union in an effort to secure its rights to advertise to Hungary's population, and is arguing that the Hungarian Gambling Commission's actions are a violation of EU principles, which allow free competition between state-run and privately owned firms.

Gambling groups in Hungary are regulated by the 1991 Gambling Act, which stipulates that all gambling firms must be majority owned by the Hungarian government.

In its defense, the Hungarian Gambling Commission is stating there are no uniform regulations on gambling in the EU, and is claiming it is up to each member state to determine its own regulations regarding the offering of services by foreign countries, regardless of their membership in the EU.

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