Many are still angered that even though restaurants, cafes, and pubs in Hungary are still closed due to the current epidemic restrictions, casinos can remain open. Meanwhile, opposition party LMP decided to submit a bill to parliament that would close casinos.
In the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic, the Orbán government closed businesses in the entertainment and catering industries, but casinos were and are still allowed to remain open with the only requirement to be closed by 7 pm.
Many were angered by the casinos’ exemption from the restrictions. One of the main points of criticism is that casinos can only remain open because they are owned by people with close ties to the government.
According to news portal index.hu, Hungary’s 11 casinos are in the hands of businessmen close to the ruling Fidesz party. Opposition politicians also slammed the government for the decision they deem unreasonable.
To protest the exemption, former Jobbik, now independent MP János Bencsik even placed a closed sign on the door of one of the casinos in Budapest in early February. Centrist green opposition party LMP also lambasted the Orbán government.
The government justified the exemption by stating that in a legal sense, casinos do not fall into the category of the food industry or entertainment, but instead are considered stores.
Now lawmakers of LMP decided to submit a bill to parliament that would close casinos, a leader of the opposition party said at an online press conference on Sunday.
Péter Ungár said it is “absurd” that while the catering sector is closed because of the pandemic, casinos “mostly run by business people close to [governing] Fidesz” remain open. “Coronavirus spreads in casinos in the same way it does in a restaurant or a bar,” he added.
The politician also emphasized that according to his party:
“In a state of emergency, everyone must bear the economic setbacks equally.”
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