Katastrofe: Denmark’s Gambling Revenue Falls 30%; Online Shows Modest Growth
The Nordic European nation of Denmark saw a precipitous fall in its legal gambling market in the second quarter of 2020. These huge losses during the COVID-19 pandemic were not offset by the smaller 2% growth in the online casino sector.
In some regional markets, such as New Jersey and Australia, online growth was enough to help shuttered land-based casinos through the pandemic period.
However, in New Jersey, online operators are tied to physical casinos as a license condition. Not so in Denmark, where physical casinos are yet to re-open since closing in late March.
The Northern country saw its total gambling revenue fall to DKK1.16b ($183.9m) over the last few months. That’s down 32.8% from the same period last year.
The biggest loser was shuttered land-based casinos. Some of them have local presences online, but not all.
The whole land-based market saw a catastrophic 87% drop in revenue over the past six months.
However, online revenues saw a (small) rise of about 3% to DKK1.23bn. ($137.5 million). A lot of this growth (around 75%) came from bets on slots.
Still, that modest increase doesn’t match the predictions of many Danish experts who warned that the lockdown could drive a swathe of gamblers online.
In fact, the country’s gambling regulator, Spillemyndigheden, posted a report at the end of March 2020 entitled “Lukkede spilleautomater og kasinoer får ikke danskerne til at spille mere online.” That translates into English as “Closed slot machines and casinos do not make Danes play more online.”
The Danish problem gambling helpline, StopSpillet, received fewer than 100 calls in the whole Q2 period – in a country of nearly 6 million.
Twenty-three thousand people have now signed up for ROFUS – the national gambling self-exclusion register in Denmark similar to the UK’s GAMSTOP – since it launched a few years ago.
However, the rate of increase in this figure in 2020 was lower than last year.
Any problem gamblers are problematic for online casinos facing both a pandemic and a planned tax hike in January 2021.
Passed shortly before the global coronavirus pandemic began, the 2020 Finance Act included a rise of 8% on all revenue taxes for online gambling companies.
Although opposed by many in the industry, regulators pointed out that this rise would put them on a 28% tax – much lower than the 40% land-based operators are already on.
Denmark’s market has been touted as an example of a good legal market by the EU many times in the past.
It enjoys consistently fair laws that see low levels of operator violations and has transitioned well over 95% of the gamblers in the country to legal sites.
Operators also quickly moved to curb their TV and online advertising after a series of pressure campaigns from politicians and other groups in 2019.
These included high-profile anti-gambling messages in partnership with the Danish Football (Soccer) Association and much more.
Given all that, we would imagine that these upcoming tax hikes may be reassessed in light of the pandemic-wrought economic climate.
However, you can never be certain of the way in which governments might act with gambling. Just look at Latvia, a fellow European nation that completely banned online gambling during the pandemic.
Hopefully, Denmark’s government won’t take such drastic action any time soon.
Keep checking online.casino/news for the latest updates on this developing story.