Denmark Seeks to Invoke Australia's 'Good Neighbor' Clause

8 May 2003

The government of Denmark is asking Australia to disallow the latter country's online gambling companies from offering Internet gambling services to Danes.

The Danish Ministry of Taxation recently submitted a letter to Australia's communications and information technology minister, Sen. Richard Alston, requesting that Denmark be given "designated country" status under Australia's Interactive Gaming Act. The act, which is two years old and is currently under review, bars companies from taking bets from Australians.

Denmark's request was submitted as part of Australia's call for opinions on its I-gambling law. Part of the act requires that it be reviewed in two years' time. Many gambling companies and groups including Betfair, Lasseters, the Australian Banking Association, MasterCard International and Tabcorp Holdings have answered the call for submissions. Groups have been submitting their views since Feb. 21 of this year.

In its submission, Denmark's taxation minister referred to section 9A of the Interactive Gambling Act of 2001, which states that countries can ask that Australia prohibit online gambling services originating in Australia, can be prohibited in the designated country as well. This section of the law was not fully implemented.

The Danish Tax Ministry continued, stating that under section 15A of the act, Denmark has been blocking online gambling services to Australians and would like Australia to do the same for it.

"At a critical moment for the prospects of jurisdictional integrity in the regulation of cross-border gaming, the Danish Ministry of Taxation requests the Australian government to continue to build on the norm of respect with a view to broaden the scope of application of the special scheme for designated countries to cover all kinds of gambling services," the submission states.

There are indications that other Nordic countries will follow Denmark's lead in limiting the ways their citizens can gamble online. In its submission to the Australian government, the Denmark Ministry of Taxation noted gambling of any kind is of great concern to the country for two reasons: to avoid negative social consequences of gambling and to allow the profits of state-run gambling operations, such as lotteries, to fund social and charitable causes.

The Australian Financial Review reported that Peter Loft, permanent secretary for the Denmark Taxation Ministry, said that at a recent meeting of Nordic countries, representatives from Norway, Sweden, Finland and Iceland said they will also seek to limit how much their citizens gamble with foreign operators.

"I know we are the first to write the Australian government, but we've just had a Nordic meeting and I know the others are probably going to," he said.

Click here to view the Denmark Taxation Ministry's submission.

Anne Lindner can be reached at