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Missing In Iceland: Policy Betting

Missing In Iceland: Policy Betting

Photos by
FBI/Wikimedia Commons

Published March 16, 2018

Iceland is not a country friendly to gambling. Sure, there are digital slots and scratch-off tickets, but there are no casinos. Even underground gambling is scarce at best. But even in the most intensely anti-gambling countries in the world, in any given major city you can usually find policy betting, also known as a numbers racket, or gambling in its purest form.

Arguably, policy betting would take off here. Any smart bookie can offer 500:1 odds on a randomly generated, publicly available, 3-digit number that can’t be easily manipulated – like, say, the last three digits of the day’s closing trade-weighted index for the króna. As the odds of actually hitting this number are really far greater than 500:1, bookies could make a killing, while bettors could get a pile of tax-free cash. Everybody wins.

Sadly, we’ve asked around and could find no action of this kind that we could get in on. Not that there haven’t been underground casinos here; in 2015, several Icelanders were handed prison sentences for having run an illegal gambling parlour from 2010 to 2012. Setting up an actual miniature casino is fairly conspicuous, while numbers rackets tend to be more low-key. Yet no one has seized this golden opportunity.

Take note, aspiring gangsters. Until such time as someone takes this important step, policy betting remains yet another thing missing in Iceland.


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