Looking for a casino to spend countless hours playing blackjack in the hope of scoring some big bucks? Well, in Iceland, you’re out of luck. There are no casinos, as such establishments are illegal by law. Apart from the old-fashioned slot machines at Háspenna and small lotteries, you won’t find much gambling around here.
Slot machines have only been legal in Iceland since 1994. Because the laws around gambling are so strict, many people turn to the Internet, putting heavy use on online playing. Taking gambling to the web requires in the use of an offshore online gambling service, which means the government receives no revenue from the activity. In 2015, Willum Þór Þórsson, a member of the Progressive Party, pushed to legalize casinos and online gambling in Iceland. Willum claimed that casinos would help raise taxes and create a secure platform for discussing the issues surrounding gambling in Iceland and its effects on society. However, the attempts to legalize gambling have been unsuccessful.
The only way to bet your entire life’s savings away in a game of poker would be to do so illegally. In Iceland, a country where tourism is thriving, it’s a surprise that gambling hasn’t been allowed yet. It would generate more revenue for the government and relieve the pressure on people who find themselves playing cards in smoky, dimly lit basements. Casinos in Iceland would be a great addition to the nightlife, socially and economically. They do have drawbacks, though, such as enabling addiction, and potentially increasing crime. But if we never get the chance to lay down a full house, how will we ever know what casinos would be like in Iceland?