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Sports Betting Online in Iceland

Iceland Betting SitesIceland is a small country nestled between Europe and Greenland. It is known for very strong men, footballer Eiður Guðjohnsen, and its small population (a little over 300,000). After being hit very hard by the economic crisis in 2008, the country is bouncing back and stability appears to have been achieved. The Icelandic people are known to love a bet, and in this article we take a look at the current state of gambling in Iceland and take a trip through history, looking at the laws that have been implemented to control betting in the country. Attention is then turned to online gambling, and we provide insight on how easy it is for Icelandic citizens to get a bet online, which bookmakers they should use, and the deposit and withdrawal options available to them.

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History of Online Betting in Iceland

The first legislation regarding gambling was passed in 1926 (Lotteries and Tombola’s Act) [1], with the law stating that without specific permission from the Ministry of Justice, gambling operations in Iceland were prohibited. Furthermore the government prohibited Icelandic citizens from playing foreign lotteries in an attempt to keep the money in the country and prevent people from betting. The University of Iceland devised their own lottery in 1933, and this represented the first legal betting in the country (80% of profits had to be ploughed back into the university). In 1972, there was a loophole which allowed pools based sports betting lotteries, and in 1986, there was a local lotto in place.

After decades of having restrictions on foreign lotteries in place, in 2004 the European Free Trade association Surveillance Authority (ESA) decided that Iceland were violating European Economic Area (EEA) agreements by limiting their citizens to the domestic lottery and the laws changed slightly, allowing foreign operators, but only if they had a license from the Ministry of Justice and intended to obtain money for the benefit of the country (i.e. must be invested in philanthropic activities). [2]

In 2001, the sports betting and lotto were merged into one company called Íslensk Getspágetraunir. As it stands, permitted gambling activities in Iceland include bingo, scratch-cards, slot machines, lottery, football pools and fixed odds sports betting. The two sites are Icelandic Getspa and The Icelandic Sport Web.

While land betting is regulated and restricted, there are currently no specific betting laws that pertain to online gambling in Iceland. Apart from the above mentioned, there are no domestic operators, but the majority of online bookmakers around the world accept Icelandic sign-ups. With around three quarters of the country gambling regularly, there is definitely a demand for online betting from citizens.

Online Firms That Accept Icelandic Players

As mentioned above, the Icelandic government have nothing in place to prevent their citizens from betting online. As such a small country, most bookmakers aren’t overly concerned with the legislative environment in Iceland, and are happy to offer their services to citizens. They tend to cover themselves with the caveat that it is the players’ responsibility to determine whether their actions are legal in their own country of residence. Some of the firms that accept Icelandic clients include:

Betsson in the only bookmaker who offers customers the opportunity to convert their site into the Icelandic language. Betway enable clients to deposit in Icelandic Krona.

Deposit Options for Players From Iceland

There are a number of different options available to Icelandic customers, including:

Although there are plenty of deposit options available, Icelandic residents may be best using the e-wallets such as Neteller and Skrill. These methods provide anonymity and security, and although there are unlikely to be any severe ramifications, the legality of Icelandic citizens gambling online still remains a murky issue.

Popular Sports to Bet on in Iceland

The Icelandic population might be small, but they enjoy a number of sports, and have had successes in different disciplines. The most popular activities include handball, football, ice hockey and weight lifting.

Handball is often considered the national sport, and Iceland’s teams hold solid world rankings. The men’s team have improved in recent years, and finished runners up at The Olympic Games in 2008, and followed that up by reaching the quarter finals in London in 2012.

Although the national team have never managed to reach a major tournament, football is a sport that is very much enjoyed in Iceland, and the standard definitely improving. After finishing second in their qualifying group for the 2014 World Cup, Iceland were agonisingly beaten in a play-off with Croatia. They are currently sitting top of a tricky looking qualifying group for the UEFA Euro Championships 2016, and have a superb chance of making it through.

There are 5 tiers of domestic competition with the Icelandic Premier League the pinnacle. The title has changed hands a number of times in recent years, but Fimleikafélag Hafnarfjarðar have been the most successful team over the last decade, winning the league 5 times.

What Does the Future Have in Store?

Although there have been murmurs that the Icelandic authorities are looking at taking action to create new legislation and regulation for online gambling, it has yet to come into fruition. Regardless, online bookmakers are unlikely to take too much notice and will still continue to offer their betting sites to Icelandic residents for the foreseeable future.


[1] Lotteries and Tombola’s Act – Ministry of the Interior
[2] Online Gambling and Poker Participation among Icelandic University Students – Bookie Selector

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