Danish government to break up state gaming monopoly

Gambling is expected to enter a new era shortly as deregulation opens up gambling market to international companies. A 60-year gaming monopoly operated by state-owned Danske Spil is set to be terminated when the government announces its plans for deregulation on this week.

A current European Commission lawsuit alleging the monopoly violates free market regulations was a major factor in pressuring the government into the move. Deregulation would mean that foreign gaming companies could begin advertising in Denmark and their gambling contests would be legally available for purchase.

According to Jyllands-Posten newspaper’s information, only the Lotto and scratch-off ticket games will continue to be under the sole jurisdiction of Danske Spil. But entry into the Danish gaming market would not be free, as companies would have to pay a licensing fee to the state to be allowed access. The government will include the fee – along with measures to prevent gambling addiction – into its proposal, which would still ensure that a tidy sum goes into the state’s coffers.

Last year nearly USD 1.9 billion was spent on gaming nationwide, with state profits of USD 486 million. Around USD 278 million of that went toward charitable and youth organizations. Danske Spil indicated it welcomed the move because the amount it has to pay back to the state – currently 30 percent of its intake – will be considerably reduced as a result of the deregulation.

“It will be nice to get some clarity on the issue after so many years of uncertainty,” said H.C. Madsen, Danske Spil’s managing director. “We’ll also be able to offer casino gambling and poker now, which we couldn’t do before.”

Danish gaming laws began being challenged in the European Courts a couple of years ago, when online companies such as Ladbrokes were hindered in their attempts to gain access to the market.