Anders Dorph: “Market with a zero underage gambling is a challenge we continue to address”

Anders Dorph: “Market with a zero underage gambling is a challenge we continue to address”

Anders Dorph: “Market with a zero underage gambling is a challenge we continue to address”
In this conversation with Danish Gambling Authority Director Anders Dorph, we take a look at the country’s gambling industry at a time when it has reached several milestones in terms of consumer protection. ROFUS, the self-exclusion program, has hit 50,000 registrations and the StopSpillet problem gambling helpline has registered 3,000 calls. What does this bode for the market? Q: Anders, it’s great to catch up with you again. A lot has happened in the Danish gambling market since we last spoke. Let’s start with ROFUS. The self-exclusion program recently hit an important milestone – 50,000 registrants. Is this something that the Danish Gambling Authority imagined would happen and what does number signify and mean for the gambling market in the country? Since 2012 when ROFUS was established, the Danish Gambling Authority has seen an ongoing growth in the number of registrants every year. In particular, the increase during the past five years has been significant and the number of registrants has recently passed 50,000. Approx. 65 per cent of the registrants have opted for the longest possible exclusion period, a permanent exclusion, which can’t be removed for at least 1 year and seven days. On the 1st of October 2023, ROFUS was expanded to also include land-based betting. This means that ROFUS now covers online gambling, gambling at land-based casinos in Denmark and land-based betting products purchased in land-based shops in Denmark. We have made a great effort to increase awareness of ROFUS through campaigns on TV, social media and outdoors. We assume that this has contributed to the continuous increase in registrations. It is important to us that those who want to exclude themselves from gambling know of ROFUS and its exclusion options. Q: StopSpillet, the National Problem Gambling Helpline, also reached a milestone of its own with close to 3,000 calls placed to the support line. What is your take on this? Are people still worried about reaching out to help services, feeling stigma, do you think, or the way support services work these days has moved beyond that and is reassuring enough for people to seek them out? The number of calls reflects that there is a need for a helpline that people can turn to for support and to talk about problem gambling either because they are gamblers themselves or because they know someone who are. The number also reflects the need for a continuous effort to increase awareness of the helpline. It also shows that it may be relevant to inform Danes about the difficulty of dealing with problem gambling alone and thereby encourage people to contact an independent helpline if one’s gambling behavior has gotten out of control. For many of those who contact StopSpillet, it is a big step for them to initiate the first contact and share the problems that come with gambling. A lot of the conversations are about the caller’s experiences with guilt and shame, given that these are feelings that are closely connected with compulsive gambling. It is a high priority for StopSpillet to promote that the helpline is confidential, so that it does not discourage anyone from contacting us. Many of those who call us are still worried about the anonymity and that we will disclose information about their situation to other public authorities or their bank, which we don’t. If the caller is worried about anonymity, we always stress that the conversation is completely confidential, and this usually reassures them enough to open and to talk about their problems. Q: The Gambling Authority also released a study into the number of underage gamblers in the country. Do you think things are getting better for underage gambling, in the sense that fewer people are gambling below the legal age, and how do you think this problem will be resolved once and for all? The Danish Gambling Authority are working on an approach where we are trying to educate the young generations to prevent underage and compulsive gambling. We do this by offering to give presentations at educational institutions, associations, and sports clubs for young people. The presentation is focused on teaching the students about the gambling market, game mechanisms, what to watch out for and our services StopSpillet and ROFUS. The students are involved in the presentation by means of tests or quizzes and debate. Furthermore, we have developed a website (www.styrpaaspillet.dk) with the same focus on educating the broad population, but especially young people, on gambling. So far, we have received good feedback and believe this approach can lead to a positive trend in society. We are aware that we may never be able to achieve a market with zero underage gambling, however, we will continue and intensify our effort. Q: Do you reckon the offshore gambling market continues to be a challenge for regulatedoperators in the country? In 2023 we had a channelisation rate of 90.2 per cent which is the 6th best in Europe, and we have seen an upgoing trend since our liberalisation of the market in 2012. That said, we are always trying to combat the illegal part of the offshore market and ensure a well-regulated and attractive market. Last year we made a study of Danes’ online gambling habits focusing on the offshore market. From this study we know that some individuals turn to the offshore market for games and offers we will not allow on the regulated market (e.g., crash casino games and huge bonuses). Since it is neither illegal for the player to participate in these games nor for the provider to provide games that are not targeted Danish consumers, it is impossible to achieve a channelisation rate of 100 per cent– especially in a country like Denmark as we are one of the most digitised countries in the world with overall high English skills. To me, our high channelisation rate confirms that we have an attractive regulated market. Q: What do you think the biggest change in the Danish gambling market has been since we last spoke? The biggest change, I would say, is the requirement for a Player ID for gambling with land-based retailers. Since the 1st of October 2023, it has been mandatory for players to identify themselves with a so-called Player ID when placing a bet with a land-based retailer such as kiosks or betting shops. The background for the requirements for registration of players and mandatory use of Player ID was a political desire to increase consumer protection and reduce the risk of underage gambling at land-based stores. In addition, there was a desire to strengthen efforts to combat match-fixing and money laundering. We are planning to do an analysis later this year to see how the market has been affected. Furthermore, the government and all parties in the parliament have agreed on new and simpler rules for charity lotteries and bingo. These new rules are planned to become effective from the 1st of January 2025. Image credit: Casino Guru News

02 MAY 2024

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