Denmark's New 'Games, Lotteries and Betting Act'

24 April 2003

In 1998 the Danish Ministery for Taxation announced plans to shake up Denmark's national gambling legislation. The plans culminated with the passing of the new "Games, Lotteries and Betting Act" on March 25, 2003.

In December 1999, the tax minister established an inter-ministerial working group to pave the way for the modernization and unification of the existing gaming legislation. In addition, the group was to assess the possibilities for maintaining national control of the Danish gaming market on the Internet. On May 7, 2001, the working group published its conclusions and recommendations in its report, "The Future of Gaming in Denmark - the Need for Unified Gaming Legislation." The report was primarily a discussion paper for a political debate.

Now the debates are finished, and the Tips-og Lottoloven (the Games, Lotteries and Betting Act) has come into force. IGN has obtained the first English version of the Act and the most important issues are reproduced hereafter.

The Act is a compilation of the Danish Horse Racing Act and the Games, Lotteries and Betting Act.

It is proposed that lotteries and other games not considered "betting" be included in the scope of the provision, which is concordant with the scope of the Act in Section 1. The proposal is motivated by the fact that the Internet gaming offers, targeted directly at Danish consumers, have become very diverse within the last couple of years as the gaming offers, in addition to bookmaking, include many uncontrolled gaming types. The intent of the broader wording is to safeguard the permitted gaming and the companies which are subjected to demands on safety, payment of prizes and allotment of money for benevolent purposes against gaming and companies that are not subjected to the same type of demands.

By continuing the provision in section 12 of the Danish Horse Racing Act, the expression "instigation of gaming" will be replaced by "Game Provider." According to the current provisions in the Games, Lotteries and Betting Act facilitation of betting by others than the licensee is illegal. The said provision clearly makes facilitation of gaming illegal if a foreign gaming company uses sales channels to sell the actual game in Denmark. However, it is doubtful that the provision covers foreign gaming sold from abroad directed at Danish players. Consequently, it is necessary to make clear that these games are covered by the scope of the provision.

By using the expression "provides," the amended provision has a wider scope than before; it also covers foreign games, lotteries and betting targeted directly at Danish players. The intent of the amendment is to make clearer that according to Danish law, it is illegal for foreign game providers to offer gaming, which by its marketing methods, (i.e. choice of language or selection of games) can be said to be targeted directly at Danish players. Games offered via the Internet should be considered to be offered in Denmark if the offer is directed at the Danish market.

Even though it is assessed that it will be difficult to proceed against game providers residing outside Denmark, the provision sends a clear message internationally. Going forward, the provision makes it easier for the Danish authorities to enter into agreements with authorities in other countries on impeding the offering of gaming from these countries to Denmark.

Furthermore, the provision makes it possible to punish persons living in Denmark who have established gaming companies outside Denmark with the intention of circumventing Danish legislation by offering gaming directly to Danes via the Internet.

The expression "facilitation" is maintained in subsection (1) (ii). In this Act, "facilitation" is to be understood as any activity intended to establish gaming or to increase the participation in illegal gaming, offered electronically or in any other way. In case an activity is defined as advertising, such activity is independently regulated by section 10(3) (iii), and hence falls outside "facilitation," as defined in section 10(1).

For instance, it will be deemed to be facilitation if links to homepages to unlicensed game providers are used. This means that the provision makes it illegal to help players in Denmark, physically or digitally, to play by game providers without a license.

Moreover, banks that set up accounts in Denmark for gaming providers who cannot legally offer gaming in Denmark are considered to be facilitating within the meaning of this Act. Banks are not under obligation, however, to check their customers' bank accounts and how these are used, and can therefore normally not be punished unless the bank already was or should have been aware of the offense.

Information offices for gaming providers without licenses in Denmark is covered by the term "facilitation of participation" if they run businesses based upon advertising or distribution of information about the gaming possibilities offered by the gaming providers. Editorial mention of illegal gaming in printed or digital news media is, however, not be covered.

Assisting to breach of the provisions is punishable in pursuance to the general rules in Section 23 of the Danish Criminal Code.

For example, persons who work for illegal gaming providers and who have contributed significantly to the company's business may be regarded as assisting in a breach. Such persons include sales agents and persons who collect information about Danish sports events for the gaming providers' betting.

Private persons or companies whose servers contain home pages that contravene the ban in the provision may also be covered by the assisting to breach provision. To punish the so-called "hosts," it is normally required that the authorities have contacted the "host" with an order on deletion of the illegal homepage, and that the "host" does not act immediately in accordance with the order.

With special thanks to: Jean Jorgensen, Vice President of Dansk Tipstjeneste Group, Denmark.

Click here to view an English translation of the new Games, Lotteries and Betting Act.

Rob van der Gaast has a background in sports journalism. He worked for over seven years as the head of sports for Dutch National Radio and has developed new concepts for the TV and the gambling industry. Now he operates from Istanbul as an independent gambling research analyst. He specializes in European gambling matters and in privatizations of gambling operators. Rob has contributed to IGN since Jul 09, 2001.