Bingo players in Denmark have always had a tough time when it comes to online bingo due to restrictive gaming laws and the near-complete monopoly enjoyed by Danske Spil for all those years. We have discussed online bingo in Denmark before and have always had a hard time finding bingo sites to recommend because so few international operators are wiling to accept Danish players.
That will all be changing soon thanks to a ruling from the European Commission that has approved Danish lawmakers’ plans to open online bingo and horse racing betting to international competition.
Beginning 1 January, 2018, bingo sites headquartered throughout the European region will be permitted to enter the Danish market and offer online bingo.
While this is great news for bingo players, Danske Spil will certainly feel the sting. They have held a monopoly over bingo, horse racing and lotteries for years with the blessing of the government. Other forms of gambling were privatized in 2012, but online bingo has remained one of the few forms of gaming still under the purview of the state-enforced monopoly.
The dichotomy in these laws also has much to do with the difficulty we’ve had in finding suitable Danish bingo sites to recommend to players. Typically, countries that prohibit online bingo also prohibit other forms of gambling and therefore prohibit international betting sites from doing any business inside the country whatsoever. Complete prohibition usually leads to at least a few gaming sites deciding to take the risk and serve the market anyways from afar.
That was not the case in Denmark because major operators such as 888 and others have already been granted licenses to offer online poker, casino games and sports betting. Thus, none of those operators were willing to offer online bingo as they would lose their licenses for other, more profitable activities. This left us with a dearth of options to recommend to Danish bingo players.
The only bad news is it will be a few more months before international operators are allowed to offer online bingo in Denmark. The law is supposed to go into effect on January 1st but we suspect the big betting sites will be well-prepared to go live on that day as long as nothing else changes between now and then.
A report published by iGaming Business explains the justification behind opening the market as being one of simple supply and demand. Danish authorities have estimated the unregulated market for online bingo to be twice the size of the regulated market under Danske Spil. Lawmakers also said they have passed the law “with the objective of channeling players away from the unregulated market into a Danish regulated market, including Danish protection of the players.”
These changes will also impact online horse racing betting in the same manner. Licensed European betting sites will be permitted to accept wagers on horse races after the start of the year as well. Danish lawmakers explained that horse racing betting has been dwindling in recent years and the sport as a whole has suffered.
The new laws include a special 8% contribution of total turnover in racing betting (both live and online) to be funneled into Danish racing activities at home. The hope is that a bigger, more competitive market will work better for the players while also providing much-needed funds for domestic racing.
Currently, 40 operators are licensed to offer online gambling in Denmark. Some of the bigger names on the list include 888, Betfair, Bwin, Betway, Betsson and Unibet. We’ll be looking for these operators first as the most likely candidates to offer online bingo once the new law takes effect.