Volume: 16 Issue: 2
The Danish Ministry of Taxation announced on 27 January 2017 that a number of Parliamentary political parties had reached agreement on the liberalisation of a number of types of gambling - online bingo, horseracing betting, pigeon race betting and dog race betting - which are currently subject to Danske Spil A/S’ monopoly. Although no legislative proposal been put forward as yet, it is currently intended that such games will no longer be subject to the monopoly as of 1 January 2018, in an attempt to, respectively, decrease the illegal market for online bingo and increase interest in horseracing betting.
The games were excluded from the prior liberalisation of the Danish gambling legislation in 2012. However, in December 2014 the Danish Parliament decided that the Ministry of Taxation should look into the consequences of liberalising online bingo and horseracing betting; the latest political agreement is the next step. “One of the purposes of the new gaming legislation from 2012 was to get the large unregulated remote gaming market channelled into a regulated market, which could be monitored by the Danish authorities among others for the protection of the players. Considering the large unregulated online bingo market, the political parties are currently re-evaluating whether a monopoly on online bingo was the best way to go,” explains Jesper Madsen, Attorney at Gorrissen Federspiel. “The political parties now believe that it will be easier to protect the players of online bingo, if the game is liberalised.”
In regards to betting on racing such as horseracing, a key argument in the past was that the liberalisation of such markets would reduce spectator numbers; however, the political parties now believe that such liberalisation could drive interest in these sports. Pernille Nørkær, Partner at Moalem Weitemeyer Bendtsen Advokatpartnerselskab, sees this liberalisation as an “opportunity for operators to increase the activities in Denmark” but at the same time, does not see the liberalisation as a major blow to Danske Spil A/S, as “Its activities in online bingo and horserace betting are not the activities which carry the business. Its main activities are and will still be lottery, online sports betting and online casino and poker. However I do think that Danske Spil A/S still will be prominent in online bingo.”
In regard to the forthcoming legislative proposal, Madsen is interested as to how ‘online bingo’ will be defined, as online bingo is covered under the current Danish legislation as a ‘lottery.’ “If the definition is not clear, it is likely that a liberalisation of online bingo could entail a liberalisation of other games within the lottery definition as well, or at least that there will be uncertainty in regards to scope of the definition of online bingo and what games it covers,” said Madsen.