We have taken the time and read a ton of resources online, as well as contacted local journalists in Iceland to retrieve the most up-to-date information regarding gambling legislation in Iceland.
Long story short
Gambling is not legal in Iceland. Gambling and playing casino games Online in Iceland are not permitted. If you are an Icelandic wondering if you can gamble online, yes, you can. The law says you can't, and we always recommend following the rules. However, in Iceland, players are in no way prosecuted for gambling on off-shore licensed gambling websites. You can play without harm because the EEA gambling laws protect you. The European Union protects the freedom of players. It is not forcing any legal changes in local laws. It does, however, actively advocate gambling legislation in member countries. In short, they want Iceland, and other members of the EEA, to legislate gambling.
What the law says
According to the General Penal code, gambling in Iceland has some implications.
Article 183 - "Any person who makes gambling or betting, or inducing other persons to indulge in them, his or her livelihood, shall be fined …1) or imprisoned for up to 1 year in the case of a serious offence. It shall be decided by a court judgment whether gains from gambling or betting are to be returned or confiscated."
While not very clear, this says that generally, all actions of gambling are illegal in Iceland. Of course, this doesn't mention the legal cases where the Icelandic government has issued a license.
Article 184 - "Any person who earns income, directly or indirectly, from having gambling or betting take place in premises under his or her control shall be fined …1) or imprisoned for up to 1 year."
Again, this general statement says making an income from gambling is illegal.
What are the exceptions
There are legal gambling options in Iceland. To be able to operate a gambling establishment, you must donate all profits to charity. At the time of writing this text, only two bodies have gone through the process of receiving such a permit. The University of Iceland can run video slot games and sell lottery tickets. And the Islandsspil is permitted to run slot machine games and sports betting.
Action Plan 2020
As of 2020, the Icelandic government created a thorough document explaining everything they need to do to create a safe environment for players in Iceland.
Here's the summary:
- Online gambling (bingo, sweepstakes and lottery) - In Iceland, gambling activities were lacking supervision until the money laundering unit of the Directorate of Internal Revenue (DIR) took over supervision in 2019, according to the 2018 Anti-Money Laundering Act. From 2020 onwards, The DIR is required to create a risk-based supervision program based on a thorough analysis and risk assessment.
- Slot machines - Suffer from a lack of supervision and also a lack of risk awareness. From 2020 onwards, the Icelandic government wants to publish guidance on: - red flags/typologies of abuse, risk assessment, national risk assessment, and customer due diligence (CDD).
- Betting - much like slot machines. Supervision and awareness of risks need to be improved. They will focus on creating a safer environment for players.
What's new in 2023
Unfortunately, not much. There are constant talks in the parliament regarding gambling legislation. Some parliament members are eager to make changes in the current situation. Other parliament members are less interested in permitting gambling. And currently, the relevant governing bodies will continue along with their action plans, without making any significant changes.
We can write on and on about the gambling laws in Iceland. However, the near future will remain the same.
As a player, what is most critical to know is that, no, gambling is not allowed. However, many reputable brands accept players from Iceland. And you can play without any problems.