Denmark regulator warns of new illegal gambling threats

In a new report, Spillemyndigheden set out details of how it countered illegal activities during 2023. This covers both the online and land-based sectors in Denmark.

The regulator said was the highest profile operator blocked last year. This came after it secured a court order to take such action against 49 websites deemed to be running illegally in the country.

Spillemyndigheden says that DNS blocking will continue in 2024, with another case due to close this year.

In terms of the effectiveness of this action, the regulator says this is hard to measure as the sites in question were not blocked for the entire year. As such, it presents data on websites blocked in previous years. 

Based on the 227 sites blocked to the end of 2022, visits to these sites were down from 15.8 million in 2017 to 1.8 million in 2023. This suggests that despite an 89% drop, some users are still able to bypass DNS blocking to gamble illegally.

New threats over illegal gambling

Spillemyndigheden also used the report to highlight possible new threats of illegal gambling in Denmark. This, it said, included streamers and influencers using social media to promote unlicensed sites.

In 2023, the regulator reported a streamer for breaching rules on advertising illegal sites for the first time. The streamer in question had been warned about their conduct several times, with Spillemyndigheden filing a report after repeat offences.

“The police’s assessment was that the streamer had violated the Gaming Act and the streamer therefore received a fine,” the regulator said in the report. “It is the first time we have reported a streamer in a case of illegal dissemination of games. We have since reported two further cases to the police regarding streamers who have disseminated and advertised games without permission.”

Regulator ramps up social media outreach

To help clamp down on new threats, Spillemyndigheden is expanding working partnerships with various parties, working with Facebook to tackle illegal gambling on the social media platform. It also partners Apple and Google to remove illegal apps from the App Store and Google Play, respectively.

“We are working to establish more collaborations with other media where we see that illegal gambling or the illegal dissemination of gambling is taking place,” Spillemyndigheden said.

Alongside this, Spillemyndigheden continues to work on nationwide initiatives to educate players about illegal gambling. Much of this focuses on younger players, with a series of programmes running throughout 2023.

In November, a Spillemyndigheden-led study found 15% of young people in Denmark aged between 15 and 17 have gambled. The legal age of gambling in Denmark is 18.

Land-based issues remain in Denmark 

While illegal online gambling is an ongoing issue for Spillemyndigheden, concerns remain for the land-based market.

During 2023, the regulator carried out 34 inspections at pubs across Denmark over unlicensed gambling. This led to two reports being filed with the police over illegal games, including lotteries.

Furthermore, Spillemyndigheden was involved in cases concerning 17 gaming venues where poker, gaming machines or betting terminals were set up without a permit.

In addition, Spillemyndigheden continued its monitoring of illegal non-profit lotteries. Since launching the programme in 2019, the regulator now supervises 126 associations that have run bingo or banko games. These efforts have led to 38 reports being filed over illegal non-profit lotteries.

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