Blak Mission in Denmark

30 November 2007

Freddy Blak wants to end the Danish state gambling monopoly, and it appears that he is taking matters into his own hands.

The former member of European Parliament (1989-2004) this week wrote an open letter to EU Commissioner Charlie McCreevy, imploring him to take action against the country.

In his letter, Blak points out that the Commission's infringement proceedings against Denmark have been delayed far too long and that it is time to bring the case before the European Court of Justice. The proceedings pertain to whether granting a gambling monopoly is in violation of Articles 43 and 49 of the EC Treaty. They commenced in 2004, and three years later, the country's gambling monopoly, held by Danske Spil, remains intact.

Blak also notes in his letter that many foreign sports betting operators have been "discriminated against and ridiculed in Denmark over the past six months."

For example, two premier league handball teams, GOG Svendborg and Viborg HK, were threatened in October with possible prosecution for violating Danish advertising laws because they wore t-shirts displaying an I-gaming operator's logo during matches. The European Handball Federation had signed sponsorship agreements with various foreign online gaming companies, including Austrian sports book Interwetten, and required the teams to display the logos during the Champions League tournament. However, Danish law prohibits all gaming advertisements, with the exception of those for Dansk Spil.

Blak has led the effort against Denmark since the country passed its monopolistic legislation in March 2003. Danish gambling law prohibits the supply or advertisement of, and the facilitation of participation in, gambling services, sports betting in particular, offered by providers licensed in other member states. It wasn't until March 2004 that the EC requested information on the law to examine whether it complied with the EC Treaty.

Denmark's last notice was given on March 21, 2007, when the EC ordered the country, along with Finland and Hungary, to adjust national policies that limit sports betting. The EC warned in March that if the countries did not respond within two months of the notices, they could refer the matter to the ECJ, but there is no evidence that ever happened.

Emily Swoboda is the senior staff writer at IGamingNews. She lives in St. Louis, Mo.