10/3/09 – The respected Wall Street Journal reports that politicial and legislative moves are afoot in Hungary to legalise and tax online and land poker, with plans to initially raise some Euro 1 million in tax revenues from live poker alone.
WSJ quotes the Hungarian daily newspaper Magyar Nemzet, which reported that Laszlo Keller, state secretary of the Finance Ministry revealed that the draft law includes detailed regulations for organising poker games and levies a tax on poker wins.
However, there appear to be differences between interested parties on how to regulate and tax the game both live and online, and these still have to be overcome.
Apparently the government intends to regulate live club poker very strictly, putting a limit on the number of tables at 10 and capping entry fees at low levels. This has raised fears that the new law could chase away international competitions from Hungary, and increase regional competition by pushing players toward online games and illegally organized or home tournaments, says the Hungarian Poker Association, or HPA, and the Hungarian Gambling Association.
HPA President Gergely Tatar suggests that instead of over-regulating and forcing players online, it should aim to make the country an attractive poker destination. He estimates the number of online players in the country at around 120,000-140,000 out of a population of 10 million.
Tatar also sees good business in attracting major international tournaments to Hungarian clubs, and suggests the introduction of set taxation per table, similarly to that in Slovakia.
He held out the carrot of government tax revenues in an interview with the Dow Jones new agency, suggesting that: “This could bring the Hungarian government tax revenues of around Euros 1 million annually, plus all the venues’ corporate and labour taxes.
"Moreover, in a few years’ time, around 1 000 jobs could be created by some 30 to 40 clubs countrywide,” he added.
Hungary’s players include a number of professionals, some with backgrounds in finance, who win figures that wouldn’t shame their North American counterparts, reports the Wll Street Journal. Denes Kalo, the Hungarian number one and a former broker, has career winnings of $2.5 million. The wealthiest Hungarian, real estate tycoon Sandor Demjan is also a poker player, and seems reasonably good at it: he made it through the third day of the World Series of Poker Europe.
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