Denmark: How Soon is Soon?

21 February 2003

After media reports surfaced indicated that Denmark might be getting close to enacting Internet gaming regulations, Peter Sehestedt, minister of taxation of Denmark, wants those in the industry to know that the process is still a long way off.

Last week Sehestedt outlined his proposed policy to regulate current land-based operators and how they could merge their operations with Internet sites targeted for Danish customers. His comments came as international regulators and legal experts from all over the world gathered for a gaming conference in Switzerland.

While his comments were designed to get the topic of I-gaming on the radar screen of politicians in Denmark, Sehestedt said many people are jumping to conclusions that Denmark could be emerging as a new I-gaming jurisdiction within a couple of months.

He said that he realized many took his comments out of context, but also said that Denmark is willing to study the plan and could become a regulated jurisdiction in the future.

"At the conference I simply outlined the strategic thinking of my administration," he said. "A thinking that as such does not exclude the possibility of introducing online casino games."

The administration has taken a liberal approach towards online gaming, but was quick to point out that just because the government is willing to study the initiative, there would likely be people, both in the public and private sector, who would be opposed to such a plan.

"To take the next step and actually allow online casino games, that is something quite different," he said. "The issue of online casino games can be very controversial for many different political reasons."

As part of his proposal, Sehestedt recommends a policy to encourage the business of legal providers. The regulations would also put into effort measures that would block illegal entities that offer unlicensed casinos, provide payment processing to unlicensed casinos or advertise illegal sites.

Sehestedt said his comments were designed to mainly get key politicians within the Danish system to get the process rolling. He said the initiative isn't on the agenda yet, but he anticipates the idea could be gaining steam.

"Things are generally cooking in Denmark in terms of gaming legislation," he said.

Sehestedt said he is skeptical about cross-border regulations regarding online gambling in the European Union. He said the only practical solution is for individual nations to develop policies.

Sehestedt is hopeful that by the end of this year Denmark could enter the realm of online gaming jurisdictions.