Denmark To Shut All Land-Based Venues

Spillemyndigheden, the Danish Gaming Authority, has announced that all land-based gambling venues in 18 municipalities across Denmark will have to temporarily close from 9th of December due to new measures aimed at combating spikes in novel coronavirus (Covid-19) cases.

Nyhavn district of the Danish capital Copenhagen, with the boardwalk and docked ships in clear view.

The Danish Gaming Authority Spillemyndigheden will shut all land-based gambling operators across 18 different municipalities in Denmark, following troubling surges in coronavirus (Covid-19) cases. ©KevinSchmid/Pixabay

Government Closure Order Has Wide Reaching Effects

The recently announced closure orders by the Danish government will affect wide swathes of everyday Danish life. These new measures currently extend to all casinos, gaming halls and restaurants as of the 9th of December and will cover the Greater Copenhagen area, Aarhus, Odense and several areas within the Sjælland region. The imposition of new lockdown rules is an attempt to fight a surge in coronavirus (Covid-19) infections seen throughout the small Scandinavian nation in recent days and weeks.

These stricter lockdown measures will end up applying to 38 Danish municipalities in total, focusing on areas where infection rates have become particularly concerning for authorities. Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen warned that while a vaccine might be on its way, the Danish people will still be facing some difficult months ahead in getting through the long winter. 

The announcement of more stringent measures arrived after the government said it would simultaneously extend national measures until at least the 28th of February, 2021. Alongside widespread closures of casinos, gambling halls and restaurants, also shutting down will be bars, cafes, cinemas and theaters, while school children in grade 5 (around age 11) and up will be sent home, all public sector workers in non-essential sectors are to work from home and private companies are urged to encourage their employees to now also work from home. 

Existing restrictions, such a ban on gatherings of more than 10 people, as well as a widely mandated requirement that face masks be worn in public, will naturally also be extended until the end of February.

Daily coronavirus cases have been surging in Denmark in recent weeks. It registered a total of more than 3,800 new infections on Saturday, December 5th and Sunday, December 6th. On Monday, December 7th, an additional 2,046 people with coronavirus (Covid-19) cases had been registered. 

In light of such figures, Danish Health Minister Magnus Heunicke expressed concern that without introducing stricter measures, Denmark might find itself in a situation in which its health-care system is overburdened and at capacity.

Danish Authority Spillemyndigheden Still Accepting License Applications

Despite Denmark’s newly imposed lockdown regulations due to surges in coronavirus (Covid-19) cases, Danish Gaming Authority Spillemyndigheden is nonetheless still accepting applications for new gambling licenses. Having opened as recently as October, the window for applications is set to run until the 29th of January, with applications for casinos on board Danish ships also being accepted during this period.

License applications will be considered by a diverse mix of Danish state institutions where relevant, such as local municipalities, police directors, the Ministry of Taxation, Ministry of Business, and the Danish Maritime Authority.

Licenses permitting land-based casinos to operate in Denmark are granted for up to 10 years at a time. Currently, the small Scandinavian nation has 8 active licenses for land-based casinos, including two operations located on board ferries. An additional permit has been issued for a land-based casino set in Copenhagen, the nation’s capital, which is set to open at the end of 2020.

Whether the casinos in question will be operated in a fully professional and financially responsible manner will be taken into deep consideration by the Spillemyndigheden as they prepare to approve and issue new casino licenses. These factors will fall under a significant amount of scrutiny, with the gaming authority focusing on whether the applicant has both the necessary experience in operating a land-based operation, as well as the required financial liquidity to cover operating expenses.

Denmark’s Gambling Revenue Fell in First Half of 2020

The latest figures revealed by the Danish Gaming Authority (Spillemyndigheden) in August 2020 showed how Denmark’s regulated gambling revenue fell 19.2% year-on-year in the first half of 2020. The novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, which understandably had a significant negative impact on land-based casinos and sports betting verticals, is mostly to blame here.

Revenues accounting for the six months leading up to the 30th of June fell down to DKK2.70 billion (£327.0m/€362.6m/$429.4m), with the biggest declines experienced by Danske Spil’s land-based casinos and gaming machines. The contribution from casinos was more than halved, down to DKK82 million, while gaming machines revenue fell by 46.6% down to DKK382 million.

With sporting events having naturally been suspended from mid-March to late May, it is perhaps unsurprising that sports betting was also down in this period, by 19.6% down to DKK1.01 billion.

Yet it was iGaming that was the only vertical that did not experience some major form of disruption as a result of the measures aimed at tackling the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic. It was the only Danish gambling vertical to in fact report a year-on-year rise in revenue. The result was still marginal, however, with the first half total up by only 2.8% to DKK1.23 billion.

Significant revenue dips in Danish gambling are all the more noteworthy given that it was revealed earlier this year how Denmark has the second-highest rate of participation in online gambling in all of Europe, and is one of just three jurisdictions where over 50% of gross gaming revenue stems from online channels. 

Out of a total of 18 European markets assessed, only Sweden saw a higher percentage of online play than Denmark, reaching 59%, where iGaming accounted for 53.1% of total revenues in 2019. 

Interesting, however, was how Spillemyndigheden also revealed findings that average gaming participation dropped in 2019, the first time average consumption among Danes aged 18 and over had declined since the iGaming market first opened in 2012.

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