Denmark: EC green lights opening for online bingo, horse race betting

EC clears way for Denmark to end Danske Spil’s monopoly on online bingo and horse racing after expiry of the three-month standstill period.

The European Commission cleared the way for Denmark to end Danske Spil’s monopoly on offering online bingo and horse race betting in Denmark on Friday, after the three-month standstill period set aside for review of the country's draft law by the EC and other member states expired.

The draft act, also adopted by the Danish parliament on Friday, will liberalise online bingo by allowing private operators to apply to offer this on a licensed basis “with the objective of channelling players away from the unregulated market into a Danish regulated market, including Danish protection of the players”. The opening is planned for January 1, 2018.

The change for bingo has been justified by Danish authorities on the basis that “the unregulated market for online bingo is estimated to be nearly twice the size of the regulated market operated by the monopoly”, meaning that it’s “no longer considered to be the most suitable model for [achieving] the objectives underlying gambling legislation, including protecting the players by the provision of games in a reasonable, responsible and transparent manner”.

For more on Denmark you can view the April edition of the iGaming Business Market Monitor (paywall)

The new law will also liberalise betting on horse, dog and pigeon racing in both online and land-based channels, alongside the introduction of a special contribution to the sport of horse racing of 8% of the turnover from bets on Danish horse races.

The contribution was justified on the following basis: “Interest in and turnover of betting on horse racing has been declining since 2007 and an assessment has shown that the current model, in which Danske Spil A/S has a monopoly, has not been able to sustain interest in the bets. This has had a negative influence on the sport of horse racing.”

Leading Nordic operator Betsson declined to give specific details on its plans for Denmark to iGaming Business, but spokesperson Pia Rosin told iGaming Business that “the end of the standstill obviously opens up business opportunities for us as we are allowed to offer bingo and horse racing as of January 1st 2018”.

She added: “Betsson recently acquired RaceBets, a niche operator with a very strong horse racing product. We are now in the process of integrating the horse racing product with our platform and offering it across other brands in the Betsson Group.”

Morten Ronde, chief executive of trade body the Danish Online Gaming Association, commented to iGaming Business: “We are happy that the monopoly on online bingo and betting on horse races is finally broken. This is something we have been arguing for since 2012. We feel that the new rules will bring further innovation and growth to the industry”.

Denmark’s regulated igaming market opened at the start of 2012, having taken on board the representations of those in the industry when it set up its regulatory framework for online sports betting, casino and poker.

It allows poker operators to tap into their international liquidities – and instituted a 20% gross gaming revenues tax for online. The approach has been widely acknowledged as resulting in a workable and sustainable market where the majority of gamblers use licensed sites and benefit from high levels of consumer protection.

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