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Danish regulator in chief speaks on illegal online gambling

In an interview with the European Gaming and Betting Association, a trade body for online gambling companies in Europe, Denmark’s chief regulator, Birgitte Sands revealed that her organisation continually monitors Danish gambling activity to root out operators who access Danish punters without the requisite licence.

The Danish Gambling Authority chief said that the regulator liaises with the Antifraud Unit run by the Danish Tax Administration, which provides the DGA with information obtained by its advanced web searching technology.

“We started using the search robot back in 2012, when the Danish gambling market was partly liberalised and ever since it has been continuously improved,” she said, revealing that the robot has provided data on around 1,100 gambling related websites and suspected unlicensed marketing or gambling activities.

“We have sent out approximately 175 petitions and we are in the process of hopefully adding another 25 websites blocked on top of the 25 already made,” she said. “Consequently, the robot remains an
important tool in our fight against unlicensed gambling in Denmark and helps DGA in identifying suspicious websites and the number of websites targeting the Danish market and wrongly offering gambling activities without a licence.

“Besides the web searches we receive reports from players sharing their gambling experiences from unlicensed Danish websites and less often we may also receive input about such websites from our online licensees.”

Describing the process against unlicensed operators or their marketers, Sand said that initially the DGA communicates with the owner or manager, advising that the site is in violation of Danish law and must immediately cease and desist in the illegal activity.

That works in most cases, but where it does not the regulator can gdet Danish ISPs and telecommunications providers to block access by Danes to the offending website.

Sand emphasised that only websites not licensed in Denmark and offering gambling activities are blocked – not websites that only market unlicensed gambling.

Where the telecomms or ISP provider asks for legal authority to block a site, the DGA is obliged to take the case through the judicial system, which can involve extensive delays.

Sand said that whilst it is often suggested that blocking is ineffective, the DGA has actually not seen the reappearance of blocked websites under new domains.

She said that as an alternative to blocking the DGA could also report offenders to the Danish police, which could investigate and prosecute the offender.

The incidence of illegal online gambling operators in the Danish market has been falling, Sands revealed, and the DGA is increasingly turning its attention to the marketers of unlicensed websites where ISP blocking cannot be applied. In these cases the DGA can resort to payment blocking.

“Based on our experiences in Denmark, the use of website blocking is definitely valuable and effective, but only if it is supplemented by a number of measures that allow the industry to create a sustainable business model and attract players using legal methods to do so, including high pay-out ratios and the right to marketing games and constantly bring forward new games,” she said.

Sand claimed that the local industry strongly supports the DGA's efforts against unlicensed operators, but that illegal activity in the market is currently at a “moderate” level.

She concluded by observing that compliance is achieved by taking an holistic approach to create a framework that facilitates effective cooperation between the many different stakeholders from both industry and public sector in order to strictly enforce laws against  unlicensed activity.

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