Denmark’s minister of taxation wants to ban the use of celebrities in gambling marketing, as he presents a raft of proposals to tackle gambling addiction to lawmakers.
Jeppe Bruus, the minister of taxation, says there are three key aims to the proposals: putting an end to “aggressive marketing”; better protecting young people; and improving gambling addiction treatment services.
The government is looking to achieve these aims by introducing a ban on gambling adverts from 15 minutes before until 15 minutes after sports matches on TV, improving funding for treatment and banning famous people and athletes from gambling adverts.
"We are witnessing an alarming increase in the number of Danes suffering from gambling problems. As politicians, we cannot sit idly by, and I actually believe that there is a need to initiate some sweeping measures,” Bruus said.
Additionally, the minister has proposed investigating the regulation of loot box sales as he claims many computer games now “make use of gambling-related elements”.
Bruus presented his proposals to parliament on September 7.
However, general elections will be held by June 4, 2023 at the latest and the country has a long history of calling snap elections.
Media reports have suggested for several weeks that Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen is close to calling an election as her Social Democrats party begins to lag in the polls, which indicates that the bloc of left-wing and centre-left parties currently ruling the country are likely to lose power.
Spillebranchen, previously the Danish Online Gambling Association (DOGA), does not believe advertising restrictions will achieve their desired impact.
Morten Rønde, director of Spillebranchen, said there is a group of political parties who “have a standing agreement to always discuss and agree on gambling matters before the proposals are put to a vote in parliament”
“Since this proposal is very industry unfriendly, we hope that the liberal and conservative parties will not accept it as is. Most likely nothing will be agreed upon before the general election and it will be for the new government to resume meetings. At this point, the timeline is not quite clear though,” Rønde said.
The Danish trade group had planned an agreement with the media to reduce the volume of gambling commercials, but they were blocked by the Competition Authority in 2019.
Bruus has been eyeing up proposals to tackle problem gambling since May 2022, when he said he was taking the results of a study “very seriously” after it revealed the number of people with gambling problems has more than doubled since 2016.
An estimated 478,000 people in the country (10.9 percent of adults) exhibit at least a low level of problem gambling, according to a study on the prevalence of gambling problems in Denmark in 2021. In 2016, this figure was approximately 212,000 people (5.2 percent of adults).
Prior to the problem gambling report, the government and a broad majority in the parliament decided in November 2021 to require mandatory identification cards every time a customer enters a gambling venue.
Denmark’s government also obtained approval to allocate an additional DKK30m (€4m) from 2023 to 2025 for efforts against gambling addiction.