The opening of the Danish gambling market to more sensible regulation in 2012 caused an influx of major players, and their trade association just got a new chairman
Danish gambling laws are a beacon of hope amongst the reactionary protectionist reactions that some other nations seem to be inclined to indulge in, whilst those countries fight an ever increasingly silly war against the techno-tsunami that is the internet, Denmark has made the sensible choice to harness it as best they can and hang on for the ride. This doesn’t mean their system and regulations are perfect, but at least they’re trying.
Whilst other nations stand Canute-like on the shores of the incoming technology tide, desperately attempting to fend off the inevitable, halt the unstoppable and keep up with a pace of change far faster than a modern liberal democracy can possibly manage, Denmark has chosen to keep anchors to the past and adopt new rules to keep the future safe and accessible. Often gambling laws are seen purely in restrictive terms, but Denmark shows some of them are just safety features.
New Chairman At DOGA
• Peter Weinreich Johansen takes over
• Online market liberalized in 2012
• Danske Spil retains some monopolies
In 2012 the liberalization of their gambling markets opened Denmark up for foreign providers, most particularly those from inside the EU, and this produced a bit of a gold rush with 25 signing up for licenses from the Danish Gambling Authority (which has the unfortunate acronym in the local language S.K.A.T). These were mainly split into those seeking to expand the physical gaming world with slot machines, and those entities existed online.
The Danish Compromise
The Danes have left their monopoly operator, Danske Spil (which sounds like an oil disaster), a vestige of the olden days before the interweb, with sole control over animal race betting, lotteries and number games. This means if you want to wager on the horses you’ll have to deal with them, but has left the rest of the market at liberty to sway and move with the times. Whilst slot machines remain hugely popular the advantages to online gambling haven’t been lost on Denmark.
Online poker, sports betting and casino games have all seen a surge in online activity, and whilst there are regulations that insist on local language use and the possession of a valid license this has not so much restricted use as prevented it become a free for all. Illegal sites are blocked faster than accurate conspiracy websites are by the NSA, and the Baliff’s court so far having handled a couple of such cases, and as soon as the technology becomes available to prevent payment to illegal sites it will pretty much kill the trade dead.
The technology to circumvent web-blocks is easy, but to go around the fiscal controls tends to be far harder to manage, and with plenty of legal alternatives it is unlikely the market will sustain such efforts. Of course with so many big players catering for those that like to bet on sports in Denmark, or enjoy a few hands of poker online, or indeed like playing the slots in their numerous arcades, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that they’re organized.
No Dogma At The DOGA
The DOGA, Danish Online Gaming Association, is a trade organization for the entire industry looking after their interests and those of the gambling public in a nation that till oh so recently had a state monopoly control over the entire swathe of gaming. It includes members such as Bet365, Betfair, Ladbrokes and Unibet amongst others, and, indeed, Betsson. This last one notable if only because their managing director has just been made chairman of the DOGA.
Peter Weinreich Johansen has a wealth of experience in the market, the industry and Denmark in particular having spent the last year and half at Betsson, and previously having worked at Betfair where he rose from Country Manager for Denmark, through the post of Area Manager to head of their International Marketing Division. It is experience that will serve him well in the job of chairing the DOGA, but perhaps not as much as his inside knowledge of Danske Spil.
It was said, by the DOGA themselves in the gambling news coverage, that Johansen’s appointment was move in the right direction, that he had an excellent understanding of the Danish online gaming market, and that he was the best candidate available to “handle the multiple interests of diverse stakeholders with the trade organization”, which is corporate code for cat herder. Certainly we all wish Mr. Johansen well in his new post and hope it proves a little less tricky a balancing act than it sounds.