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Experiences from a regulated Nordic market

It’s too easy to get caught up in the war between interest groups in the USA and to start believing what each side says. So let’s take a step back and look at what does gambling regulation really bring to a market (any market), and let’s use Denmark as the example of a country that went from a monopoly to an open yet regulated market with 50+ licence holders. Websites such as have more specific information if you want it, and here we’ll look at the big picture.

Who opposes regulation?

In case of Denmark, the state monopolist Danske Spil was naturally opposed to liberalization of the market, and same goes for every single private operation you can think of, mostly land-based casinos that dread the vibrant online casinos. This is nowhere more true than in the US, where there’s a strong land-based casino lobby that’s been running things since the Frank Sinatra days. These entities are always the main opponents of any kind of liberalization as they want to keep the cash themselves, and they want to keep the online game illegal. In fact, it’s a miracle that these land-based casinos have even managed to stay in business with the invention of Internet, now competing against an opponent they couldn’t possibly beat in a fair fight as everything is better online, from RTP to safety. Yet these casinos, offering low-RTP games that are sometimes even rigged, each casino having a dark room where they interrogate/harass/beat up suspects, are still in business. It only goes to show how muscular and slick they are. They get what they want.

What does the regulation bring

In case of Denmark, the state lottery did lose a portion of the income and so did the land-based casinos. In exchange, a whole new – taxable – market emerged with revenue that far exceeds the revenue of the monopoly market, with a rapid upward trend. The players no longer had to sign up with suspicious online casinos, but now have more than 50 of them where they can freely sign up, knowing that they’re protected by the regulatory body. They have someone to complain to when things go wrong – unlike that person that’s being interrogated in a casino’s dark room.

In short, when you look at all the various ways the countries all over the world handled this same problem, you always reach the same outcomes. Those markets that are regulated are booming and are bringing tons of tax money to the government, and the players are protected. Those markets that didn’t dare to enter regulation but remain a grey area don’t really win in any aspect, as the players still gamble with unlicenced operators and all of that potential tax money is lost while the players are totally unprotected from scams. And then there are markets that have chosen to maintain someone’s monopoly, whether it be the state lottery or some private land-based casino chain, and these are rather successful in what they do. They wrestle their way into being the only legal operator on the market, counting on the majority of people’s tendency to stay away from anything “unlicenced” or “illegal”. In this scenario, the monopolist wins but the country is missing out on a lucrative market that could bring tax and jobs, and the players lose because the best games are unavailable to them.

Which way should USA go?

The trend of liberalization of the market is obvious, and it’s also obvious each state will write its own rules. Gambling will remain an unwanted activity in some states such as Utah while some other such as Nevada are basing their existance on offering gambling when no one else wants to. And then there are states that are in between and just feel gambling and betting should be available to the people who want it. If anything, the story is getting more complex, as not all gambling verticals are treated the same. Expect it to get even more complicated, just remember there’s a silver lining and it’s called regulation. The land-based casino lobby will oppose it, so will the religious groups, but meanwhile don’t buy their crap and just go ahead and gamble in Bitcoin. Life’s too short to let someone stop you from doing what you want to do.

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