Betting in Budapest

Published: 06/04/2013

Located along the Danube River, the city today known as Budapest was settled by Celts before 1 AD and later occupied by Romans. For a while, it was part of Bulgaria, but in 896 the Principality of Hungary was formed with its capital on the west bank known as “Buda.” Across the river on the east bank another settlement called “Pest” sprang up to become an important economic center during 11th~13th centuries. However, it was not until 1849 that the two cities were joined by the Danube’s first suspension bridge, the Széchenyi Chain Bridge, leading to the unification of Pest with Buda and a third city, Óbuda, in 1873.

Today, Budapest is the capital and largest city in Hungary. It also ranks as the seventh largest metropolitan area in the European Union, with a population of just over 1.7 million residents and another 1.5 million Hungarian citizens living in the immediately surrounding metro area. The city is subdivided into 23 numbered districts, including six in Buda, 16 in Pest and one on Csepel Island in between them.

Virtually all forms of industry can be found in Budapest, from communication engineering and computer appliances, electric machines and incandescent lamps to pharmaceuticals. Most manufacturing operations are located in the suburbs, while the city centre is a hub for services, such as financial counselling, money transactions, commercial businesses, logistics and real estate. Tourism and catering are important to the local economy, too, and Budapest is home to thousands of restaurants, bars, coffee houses and party spots.

Two major entertainment companies dominate Budapest’s gaming scene. Operating six locations around the city is Merkur Casinos, a division of the Gauselmann Group headquartered in Germany’s East Westphalia. It was founded by Paul Gauselmann in 1957 to refurbish used U.S. jukeboxes, and by 1976 the family-owned company had begun manufacturing its own slot machines.

The Merkur Casino – Savoya Park is representative of these properties, open daily 24 hours and offering both proprietary Merkur gaming machines and Alfastreet roulette tables. It is located on the west bank in District 21, and Merkur cardholders are eligible for free food and drinks as well as free Wi-Fi Internet access. Likewise on the east side, the Merkur Casino – Arkad in District 14 and the Merkur Casino – Kispest in District 19 offer similar amentias and round-the-clock action.

The Merkur Casino – Csepel Plaza on the island in District 21 features less liberal hours of operation—open Sunday through Thursday from 10am to 1am and on Fridays and Saturdays from 10am until 3am—as does the Merkur Casino – Dune Plaza in District 13 to the north. Meanwhile, the Merkur Casino – Mammut in District 2 opens at 10am daily, but allows play until 3am Sunday through Thursday and till 4am on Fridays and Saturdays.

Competing with Merkur Casinos are five properties owned and operated by the Austria-based Novomatic Group of companies under the “Admiral Electronic Club” brand. There are locations in districts 4, 7 and 13, plus two in District 8, typically open 24/7 and offering anywhere from 20 to 40 electronic gaming machines.

One of the few Budapest gaming venues located inside a hotel is the Casino Las Vegas at the 351-room Sofitel Budapest in District 5, overlooking the Danube River from the eastern downtown area. It is open 24 hours daily with a 13,240-square-foot gaming space, 65 gaming machines and 28 table and poker games, including American Roulette, Blackjack, Poker, Progressive Poker and Punto Banco. Also on the premises are three restaurants—the Terrace, Players must be at least 18 years of age, show a valid passport or ID, and pay an entrance fee equivalent to US$10.

Also in District 5 is Le Grand Casino open daily from 8am to 5am with 78 gaming machines and electronic roulette available; members of Club Le Grand are eligible for various bonus points and discounts. And just around the corner on Vigado Street is the Tropicana Casino, featuring 60 gaming machines and 29 table games, ranging from American Roulette, Baccarat and Blackjack to Caribbean Stud Poker, Craps, Poker and Punto Banco; the property serves food and drinks at its own Bamboo Bar ,and the action goes on 24/7.

One other opportunity for gamblers in Budapest is horseracing. Located on the east side of the city in District 10, not far from the Budapest Sports Arena and Ferenc Puskás Stadium, is Kincsem Park, a thoroughbred track originally built in 1925. Flat racing events are scheduled from May through December.

Published on: 06/04/2013

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