By Jana Sedlakova
Since the Danish regulator began issuing licences for internet gambling at the start of 2012, some 30 companies have chosen to take licences, including 888, Unibet, Betsson and Betfair. In the first two quarters of 2012 revenues have reached DKK 970 million (EUR 130 million) and could approach DKK 2 billion (EUR 268 million) for the full year.

Birgitte Sand, Director at the Danish Gambling Authority (DGA), in her article “Monopoly No More: The Liberalization of the Danish Gambling Market” (Source: Casino Enterprise Management) said: “Historically, the gambling market in Denmark has been monopolized by Danske Spil A/S, but as a result of the new act, it will be liberalized starting Jan. 1, 2012. This means that operators can now be licensed to legally operate in the Danish market for betting and online casino game services. Thus, the lottery and class lotteries such as bingo, scratch cards and drawing lots remain monopolized.” 

There have been some concerns raised about the new Danish legislation favouring online gambling [including offshore] as opposed to terrestrial operations within its own territory due to the tax differences. The DGA signed a bilateral Memorandum of Understanding with Malta’s Lotteries and Gaming Authority (LGA) earlier this year. The Memorandum of Understanding outlines the cooperation between the two authorities by providing “operational assistance”. 
This agreement is a sign that European jurisdictions understand the need for cross border cooperation in the industry and that it is in their interest to collaborate on these issues.
Further in the article as reported by Casino Enterprise Management, Sand stated “… we anticipate strengthening our international engagement through increased participation and knowledge sharing in relevant gambling forums. In 2011, we signed a minor number of bilateral agreements with regulators of common interest. With respect for the laws, we view bilateral agreements as an important element in our work against illegal gambling in Denmark as well as optimizing our possibilities for information sharing across borders.” 
Above all, despite the tax disparity discussions, the new regulatory regime in Denmark has contributed to its reputation and perception by many as the most liberal legislative regime and an approach that should perhaps be followed by others in the European Union. Some regard Denmark as a role model in governing the online gambling industry.
Steps have been taken by the Danish Gambling Authority to ban sites that have not complied with the new rules, and those which have neither obtained nor applied for a licence whilst continuing to operate. Several of these websites have continued their operations despite lacking permission to do so. This concept of the “blacklist”, first introduced by Italy, is becoming more common amongst regulators. Belgium, too, makes regular updated to the sites on its list of banned operators. Some consider such action to constitute internet censorship. 
The Danish Gambling Authority has published the names of the 12 prohibited brands on its site saying that it “monitors the gambling market to identify gambling operators who offer gambling on the Danish gambling market without the proper Danish licence. These efforts have uncovered several websites which have been contacted in an attempt to stop their illegal activities. A large number of these websites have corrected their gambling offer so they no longer contravene Danish gambling law. However, some websites continue to offer gambling without a Danish license. Today, the Danish bailiffs court in Frederiksberg decided to impose an injunction on the internet service provider “3”, requiring them to enable a block on 12 illegal websites. “3” has 14 days to comply with the injunction and enable the blocking measure.” 
Danske Spil, the Danish state-controlled gaming operator, has chosen OpenBet for its online back end in Denmark. The selection is said to have been a very competitive process and the new Danske Spil’s sportsbook should begin next spring.
This venture can be regarded as another significant move for Openbet, particularly in an environment so affected by politics and the associated regulatory changes, let alone the fierce competition coming from other providers in this niche market.
Being up to date with technology advancements is one of the key initiatives for any business in today’s climate. In light of the large number of failed IT projects and the constant changing requirements the choice of a software provider is one of the most crucial decisions to make, particularly with regard to the cost and technical implications associated with any changes and integration complexities. 
Danske Spil has recognised this and reflected it in its strategy “of purchasing the strongest systems for each product line.” Following the launch in early 2013 this upgrade will then also be critical for other gaming products.
The new software will make redundant the existing sports betting platform running for nearly two decades (since 1994); and as per OpenBet’s press release [3rd September] “With OpenBet’s IT framework together with hardware partner Ardenta, it is anticipated that with this hosted solution there will also be a much wider range of product and improved functionality including enhanced in-play betting.”
Further in the press release, David Loveday, Chief Executive of OpenBet, said:
“This award by Danske Spil, against all other major operators in this field underlines our market-leading position in sports betting and is testament to our work with other lotteries and government-backed betting organisations. As we continue to build our global footprint, this is another building block for the international expansion of OpenBet and further verification of the probity and quality of our proposition.” 
Loveday added: “As one of the most technically advanced lottery providers in Europe, this is a flagship project for us and we are confident we have the best product with the most flexible and scalable sports betting platform to enable Danske Spil to continue to strengthen their existing competitive advantage.” 
Jens Aaløse, Chief Executive of Danske Licens Spil commented:
“It is our constant ambition to compete at the highest level of the sports betting area. With OpenBet’s platform, we intend to further strengthen our sports betting products with a much wider range of bets and improved functionalities for both pre-live and in-play betting”.
“We have performed very well on the sport betting market since the introduction of the new gaming legislation in January 2012, and we are happy to establish that we are the Danes’ preferred sports betting provider.”
Denmark has taken the lead in Scandinavia with its new regulatory regime. If it can become a successful example of enlightened internet gambling regulation the industry will be hoping that other countries, in Scandinavia and further afield, will learn from it.