Following a March 25 ruling by a court in the City of Copenhagen, the Danish Gambling Authority (Spillemyndigheden) will be allowed to block 25 unlicensed online gambling sites. Their IP addresses will become inaccessible in the country following a request by the Authority to the relevant internet service providers. This news was announced on the website of Spillemyndigheden on April 3.
The list of websites targeted by the Danish Gambling Authority consists of traditional betting and casino sites as well as skins betting enterprises. The 10 traditional gambling sites involved are:
The 15 skins betting URLs that are banned are:
The Director of the Danish Gambling Authority, Birgitte Sand, explained the reasons for seeking to prevent access to these law-breaking organizations:
We use our authority to block websites on an ongoing basis. We do this to protect the operators who do have a licence to offer gambling in Denmark. But we also do so to protect the players. Here, our focus is particularly on the pages that offer skin betting, as they often target children and adolescents under the age of 18.
Because our audience is comprised mainly of internet poker players, we assume that they understand how normal online poker, casino, and sports betting works. “Skin betting” may be an unfamiliar term, though, and so we feel it's appropriate to briefly go over what it is and how it works.
Skin betting refers to using virtual goods or skins from a video game as a virtual currency to place bets on gambling games. This practice is common in numerous gaming communities but is especially popular with Valve's hit game “Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.”
The phenomenon of skin betting was an offshoot of enabling players to trade in-game loot among themselves at the Steam marketplace and through third-party services. Individuals began visiting these outlets for the purpose of purchasing, selling, and trading skins for real money.
Websites were created specifically to facilitate the exchange of skins for gaming chips or credits, which could then be bet with. In many cases, these transactions were conducted by automated trading bots, allowing for deposits and withdrawals without having to set up a deal manually. When a user was ready to retrieve his or her winnings, they could swap their credits back for skins.
This type of site is currently being scrutinized due to the legal and ethical questions regarding rigging, underage gambling, undisclosed promotions, and placing bets on sporting matches. These sites are against the terms and conditions established by the video game companies and are not regulated.
In June 2016, evidence revealing these unethical practices came to light. This resulted in two formal lawsuits against Valve and skin betting sites being filed during the next month. Valve took action to prevent the Steam interface from being used by these sites to enable gambling.
The ruckus raised by anti-gambling advocates resulted in approximately half of skin betting sites shutting down. However, this type of gambling continued in the underground, and it's very difficult to end the practice entirely without compromising the ability of legitimate video gamers to trade their virtual goods with each other.
Skin betting continues to be a thorn in the side of Valve and other video game companies. Even as recently as April 3, 2019, a lawsuit was filed alleging that Valve was profiting from illegal gambling.
This kind of gaming has drawn the ire of other regulatory bodies around the world. For instance, the U.K. Gambling Commission along with more than a dozen other watchdog agencies signed a declaration in September 2018 expressing concern over the “blurring of lines between gambling and gaming.”
None of the 25 sites affected by the recent court judgment possess the required licenses to legally offer gambling services online to the Danish public. Licenses for betting (which cover wagering on sports and other events) cost 279,500 Danish Kroner (about $42,000) apiece and are valid for five years. The same price and time period applies to online casino licensure too. A combination license that's valid for both betting and online casino can be had for 391,300 Danish Kroner (approximately $58,000).
Entities interested in providing other kinds of gambling, whether for charitable purposes, in brick-and-mortar casinos, lotteries, et cetera, must also obtain licenses in order to not run afoul of gambling laws. The costs and license conditions vary depending on the types of gambling involved.
Director Sand stated that Spillemyndigheden uses its authority on a continuous basis to block illegal websites. As previously mentioned, the goals are to protect the licensed gaming industry and safeguard consumers from rogue operators. Organizations that have a Danish-language website, employ Danish-speaking support staff, allow wagering in Danish currency, or are otherwise determined to be marketing specifically to Danes are considered enforcement priorities.
Far from being an ancillary matter, skin betting is actually a main focus of Danish gambling officials. It is alleged that many of these sites actively target adolescents and children under the legal age of 18. Thus, there's an added incentive to go after them as opposed to normal internet gambling sites, which market themselves toward adults.
This recent court case was the second time the Danish Gambling Authority has pursued legal mechanisms against skin betting. The first court filing occurred in February 2018. A total of six skins betting sites were blacklisted while 18 standard online gambling websites were affected.
The significant increase in skin betting websites being sanctioned is due to a new search strategy the Danish Gambling Authority has prepared and adopted. Locating and verifying websites offering skin betting is much more demanding than identifying the traditional sites that offer gambling. The new search strategy of the Danish Gambling Authority is a lot more efficient, which permits much easier identification of websites offering skin betting.
There are hundreds, maybe thousands, of internet gambling portals out there, and only a small handful of them are contained in Denmark's list of proscribed sites. In any case, it's NOT illegal for ordinary citizens to circumvent any domain blocking that the government institutes and bet their own funds on whatever games of chance or skill they choose.
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If you're located elsewhere in the world, then consult our country-specific guides to learn where you can play poker online: