The Danish Gambling Authority (Spillemyndigheden) has warned consumers to ensure they are gambling with licensed operators after noting a rise in unlicensed bingo games being offered both online or in physical venues.
Over the past month, the regulator said private games were being organised via the internet, or as drive-in bingo, where the participants sit in their cars to play.
Spillemyndigheden said that these events were generally being held because the organisers were unable to hold otherwise planned events, due to social distancing measures imposed as a result of novel coronavirus (Covid-19), or because they wished to create a sense of unity amid the crisis. However, many had failed to secure approval from the regulator for the games.
“We certainly understand that at this particular time, there is a great desire to unite people through enjoyable entertainment such as bingo games, which is a game that can easily be adapted to the current requirements to keep distance,” Spillemyndigheden director Morten Niels Jakobsen said.
“However, when holding bingo games where a deposit is required in order to participate and you can win a prize, it is covered by the Act on Gambling’s licence requirements. In such cases, this means that it is illegal to offer online and drive-in bingo without a licence from Spillemyndigheden.”
While special rules apply to associations and organisations that hold charitable lottery or bingo games, with the money consumers pay to take part going to charitable purposes, organisers must secure a licence from Spillemyndigheden before they can be offered.
Linda Lomborg, head of responsible gambling and charitable lotteries at Spillemyndigheden, said if consumers are concerned about a bingo game, they can contact the regulator to see if the operator holds the relevant licence.
“Our employees are ready to guide the organisers to ensure that bingo and lotteries comply with the existing rules,” Lomborg said.
The warning comes after it was revealed this week that Danish courts blocked access to 16 illegal gambling websites following requests from Spillemyndigheden.
A District Court ruled in favour of the regulator in March after it requested action be taken to block 17 unlicensed gambling sites. One of these 17 sites pulled out of the market before the court's decision was announced.