DOGA Warns Licensees on the Use of the Word “Free”



Staff member
May 3, 2008
The Danish Regulator Spillemyndigheden Warns Licensees on the Use of the Word “Free” in Bonus Offers

Spillemyndigheden, the gambling regulator in Denmark has issued a warning notice to its licensed operators regarding the use of the word “free” in bonus offers, especially if the offer turns out to have wagering requirements. The regulator urges operators to be upfront with their players in their marketing materials and not use the word “free” for offers that involve a turnover requirement.

The Statement

The Danish regulator has issued a warning statement this Monday, reminding online casino operators who hold a license to operate in the Danish market of the 2016’s Danish Consumer Ombudsman. The Ombudsman Statement is crystal clear about the use of the word “free” in operators’ bonus offers: if a bonus offer has wagering requirements that players must meet after they’ve played through the bonus, it mustn’t be called a “free bonus offer”.

In addition, the Ombudsman statement addressed the use of phrases such as “free bet”, “free of charge” and “Free Spins” in offers that involve a turnover requirement. It is transparently stated in the statement that online casino operators can only use these phrases “if the offer does not involve a turnover requirement and the chance of winning is not reduced”.

The regulator also reminded operators that the Executive Order on Betting Section 19(1)(1) and the Executive Order on Online Casino section 20(1)(1) require from them to “clearly state all conditions and terms to a bonus offer alongside the offer, directly alongside it”.

These warnings come a year after politicians forced the Danish government to impose new and stricter limits on gambling bonus offers and promotions. A cap of DKK10,000 or $152 on the value of such promotions and offers was suggested by the Social Democrat party, which is roughly 10% of what major online casino operators have been offering at potential players.

The Danish regulator is not the only one imposing stricter regulations and oversights of the marketing material in Europe. The UKGC-licensed operators were also warned a year ago by the UK Competition and Markets Authority to either reduce the quantity and extent of their ‘misleading’ bonus and promotional offers or face the consequences of grave regulatory restrictions. The UK has made many regulatory changes regarding gambling advertising, encouraging other markets to do the same. In fact, the CEO of Danske Spil, the Danish former gambling monopoly, suggested that Denmark should impose the ‘whistle to whistle' ban on all gambling ads during televised sports events, and follow UK's lead. This is not entirely impossible to happen in Denmark since operators have sensed the danger and have decided to take matters in their own hands, collaborate and create a framework of new code in hopes to avoid bans or similar tough restrictions.

The New Code of Conduct by the Gambling Industry in Denmark

Aware of the possibilities for stricter restrictions on their permission to promote their online gambling offerings, local gambling groups united to craft brand new codes of conduct, with hopes of avoiding what has happened to many operators in numerous regulated markets.

The DOGA (Danish Online Gambling Association) joined with brick-and-mortar casino operators last month. They came up with a new framework of a voluntary code that included their future plans on marketing. This voluntary code puts emphasis on protecting children and those vulnerable from seeing gambling offers and promotions, mainly in televised material. The code is set to take effect on the 1st of July 2019.

The rules will include a ban on suggestions that gambling might make an individual cool or resolve its financial debts and a ban on the use of celebrity endorsement in gambling ads. In addition, the gambling industry in partnership with broadcasters will work out a plan to ensure that the gambling commercials don’t appear during children-friendly programming or time blocks, and will reduce the overall volume of the gambling materials which are broadcasted.

The industry promises with the code to also reduce the likelihood of underage Danish individuals viewing online gambling marketing by tightening social media marketing. Digital offers and promotions will, therefore, be advertised alongside responsible gambling reminders, as well as information on how and where to seek help if you need some. Another thing operators plan to include in their responsible gambling plan is the pop-up messaging to players, offering them a ‘reality check’ on the money and time they have spent during their gambling sessions.
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