Betting in Denmark

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Although Denmark has been a member of the European Union since its founding as the ECC in 1973, all gambling within the country is regulated by the state’s Danish Gambling Authority (DGA) and controlled by a single national gaming monopoly known as Dansk Spil. The government has for decades forbidden both private Danish companies and foreign bookmakers from setting up betting shops within Denmark’s borders.

All alone, Dansk Spil operates or oversees about 4,000 kiosks and betting shops where Danes can place wagers on sporting events. The most popular chain of betting shops is the PitStop franchise. It combines a café-type environment with a counter where Dansk Spil products are sold. These include sports wagers and lottery-style games, such as Det Danske Klasselotteri A/S and Dansk Tipstjeneste AS.

Denmark also has 16 major gaming venues around the country. They include seven full-service casinos like the Casino Copenhagen in the capitol, plus a casino cruise ship called the Pearl Seaways, a dog track in Odense known as the Royal Canine Arena, and eight different horseracing courses.

As a constitutional monarchy with a socialist economy, Denmark claims that its state-run games are non-profit undertakings. By 2008, some 11 billion kroner (€1.47 billion) was being spent on gaming nationwide. Net revenues to the state were estimated to be about 2.8 billion kroner, about 57% of which went toward charitable and youth organisations.

Of course, bookmakers operating outside Denmark see things differently. In the eyes of EU authorities, Danish sports betting games are “for profit” and EU companies should be allowed to compete. At one point, Ladbrokes began appealing to Danish players to use its online sportsbook. The Danish government took legal action against then, and Ladbrokes countersued.

In the end, the Danish Court ruled in favor of Dansk Spil as a “technically” not-for-profit organization. Of course, that has in no way stopped Dansk Spil, and Dansk Spil alone, from offering sports bets on the Internet. The EU vowed to fight the monopoly through ever channel available.

In April of 2009, the Copenhagen Post reported that Danske Spil’s 60-year gaming monopoly was set to be terminated. This action was in direct response to a European Commission lawsuit alleging the monopoly violated free market regulations. Foreign gaming companies would be allowed to advertise in Denmark and their gambling contests would be legally available for purchase, with the exception of Lotto and scratch-off ticket games.

As it turned out, however, the new Danish regulations still favoured local operations by excluding for licensing all online gambling ventures which even partially operated outside of Denmark. In effect, major international bookmakers would need to set up exclusive operations in Denmark, just for the Danish market.

Again, international pressure came to bear. By May of 2011, the DGA had agreed to permit licensed online casino operators to host “parts” of their internet systems outside Denmark, but only in special cases and under strict supervision. It is a small step, but one that ensures the country’s market will be liberalized and open at least somewhat for foreign operators to enter.

Meanwhile, some 473 sports betting websites outside of the country already accept wagers from residents of Denmark. In fact, fully 19 of them also offer support in the Danish language to make it easier to obtain information and place bets, including Unibet, 888 Sport, Ladbrokes, bwin, Bet365 and Expekt, among others.

According to CasinoCity, Visa credit accepts transactions from residents of Denmark at 2,106 affiliated gaming websites, with 244 of them making Danish language services available. MasterCard can be used at 2,007 online gaming venues, including 241 offering Danish-language support. Also, eWallets such as Moneybookers, eWire Direct or NETeller welcome deposits and withdrawals from Denmark in Krone, the national currency, as well as in Euros.