European countries are some of the most popular tourist destinations with unique culture, architecture, and other sights to see. Casinos are some lesser known tourist attractions.
Some of the casinos in Europe are among the oldest in the world. Today we’ll talk about the casino life in Budapest, Hungary’s capital city. What does the history of the casino industry in Budapest look like
The Origins of Gambling Regulations in Hungary
The first regulations and laws concerning gambling trace back to Maria Teresa Habsburg, the former Queen of Hungary. She was the first to introduce a monopoly on the gambling industry.
These first sets of laws dealt primarily with national lotteries. The very first land-based casino in Budapest, Hungary, was opened in 1827 by Istvan Szechenyi. Card games and horse racing, in particular, became very popular during the 19th century. The oldest casino in Hungary right now is the Casino Sopron.
Gambling After WWII
After World War II, Hungary and most other Eastern European countries adopted a communist government. As a result, gambling was largely outlawed since communist ideology was against personal enrichment.
The national lottery was reintroduced to the country in 1957. Eventually, this paved the way for land-based casinos; however, these were more for visitors, not residents of Hungary.
The Casino Budapest was opened on April 25, 1981, on the fourth floor of the Hilton Hotel. The Hungarian government financially backed it. Chips at the casino could be exchanged for West German Marks. Any other western currency could be exchanged for marks as well.
There were strict laws at the time for Hungarians against buying foreign currency, which effectively locked them out of playing there. So while gambling itself wasn’t necessarily illegal, other regulations prevented nationals from doing it.
Casino Budapest had four tables for roulette, three tables for blackjack, and one table each for boule and baccarat. There was another separate room with 32 slot machines as well as a snack bar. The owners renovated one of the restaurants and nightclubs from the hotel into the casino. Overall, it had a medieval atmosphere, and the blackjack room was part of a tower dating back to the 14th century.
While the Hilton managed the casino, it was owned by Danubius Hotel and Spa Company. The Austrian Casino Company of Vienna helped launch the casino and held a 49% share. The casino operated from 5 PM in the evening to 2 AM in the morning, each day of the week.
Visitors to the casino also had to pay a fee of $2.35 at the door; however, this could be exchanged for chips. Overall the Casino Budapest club was one of the most popular destinations in the country.
Gambling in the Modern Era
In 1992, the first private casino (Las Vegas Casino) in Budapest opened in the Sofitel Hotel. In 2000, the Casino Tropicana was opened in Budapest by Szerencsejáték. The company was founded in 1991 and is currently the largest gambling operator in Hungary.
Gradually over time, restrictions on gambling were loosened, which allowed the industry to thrive more. Today, several casinos are operating in Budapest. There are also gaming rooms that differ from casinos in a few ways.
To play at a casino, a passport or other form of identification is required. The casinos also offer a wider range of classic casino games compared to gaming rooms. Playing online is also possible, with numerous casinos accepting Hungarian players.
Casinos and gambling have an exciting history in Hungary, going back to the 18th century. Over time, public opinion and the legality of casinos has varied. If you’re enjoying the countless sights in Europe and want to visit a fascinating casino, Budapest, Hungary, is the place to start.
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