Danish Government Cracks Down on Advertising for I-Gaming Services

16 August 2001
The government of Denmark on Monday reported a Danish newspaper to the police for placing a link on the newspaper's website to British bookmaker UNIBET.

Peter Sehestedt, a section head with that country's minister of taxation, said that the agency reported Ekstabladet, a tabloid, because the government recently decided to enforce the country's outmoded gambling laws, even though they don't specify anything about I-gaming links.

Our legislation doesn't mention links; our legislation is much older than the Internet, but we find it very reasonable and justified to use the existing law on the Internet"
- Peter Sehestedt
Denmark Ministry of Taxation

"Our legislation doesn't mention links; our legislation is much older than the Internet, but we find it very reasonable and justified to use the existing law on the Internet," he said.

According to Sehestedt, allowing Danish media to link to foreign bookmaking sites was drawing too much revenue from the national lottery.

"As it is now, the state monopoly, Tipstjenesten, is losing money, and so is the state, every minute," he said. "We thought we had sufficient legal basis to go ahead right now."

The police have decided to charge the newspaper, Sehestedt said. The punishment is a minor fee, but will achieve what he considers to be the desired effect of providing an example for the other Danish media sites.

"The effect should be more educational, more symbolic," Sehestedt said. "The fee is not important."

Two and a half months ago, the minister of taxation sent letters to Ekstabladet and four other Danish media outlets that were linking to British bookmakers. Together with Australian gambling sites, British bookmakers pose the strongest threat to the Danish lottery. Sehestedt said the four other sites removed the links or inactivated them. Ekstabladet didn't, which the government official says he was happy about, since it gave the agency the chance to publicize that gambling laws will now be enforced.

"Of course we wanted to remove that particular link, but we also had to look at the bigger perspective, to get as much publicity on this subject as possible, so to engage the other media in this problem, to make sure that they got the message too," he said.

New gambling legislation that will address Internet gambling as well as links and advertisements for Internet gambling is in the works in Denmark. Sehestedt said that it didn't want to wait for the government to draft a specific law making linking to foreign I-gaming sites illegal, so it is interpreting the current law, the Pools and Lottery Act, as prohibiting the links.

Due to the political situation in Denmark, where there will be an election and therefore a new government in six months, it could be up to two years before new gambling legislation is enacted.

"We took this step because we thought the market was getting out of control," he said.

In June the Danish Ministry of Taxation released a report on the future of online gambling in Denmark. The report concluded that the state should try to contain the danger of foreign gambling operators illegally marketing their games in Denmark and also recommended blocking payment transactions to foreign operators.

Anne Lindner can be reached at anne@rivercitygroup.com.