The ongoing recession, coupled with unfavourable regulatory changes, has caused problems for many Eastern and Central European gaming machine markets. The best example is Hungary, where a full gaming machine ban (outside casinos) was introduced suddenly in October 2012, apparently without warning. The ban has come only one year after a fivefold increase in taxes and the transition to server-based gaming, which caused many companies to leave the market and has required significant investment from the remaining companies.
The situation is also grim in Romania, where changes in the law have decimated the gaming machine sector. As the new minimum number of machines each operator must have was increased to 50, the number of operators declined from around 1,200 in 2009 to about 400 in 2011 and 2012.
The economic crisis and the smoking ban brought about 20% lower revenues and 15% fewer slot clubs in Croatia in the period from 2008 to 2012.
Other countries in the region have experienced similar problems, which has resulted in revenues declining by 45% in the period from 2008 to 2012.
It seems that at the time of crisis, rather than helping the industry to survive, the governments have put an additional burden. Rather than increasing state revenues from gaming, higher taxes have sinked the industry, causing closures and lay-offs and ultimately increasing government expenses.