Is Online Gambling Legal in Iceland?
Although online gambling is technically illegal in Iceland, the government seemingly has no interest in blocking international operators.
The upshot is that Icelandic bettors can access the best international betting sites, sign up and bet on their favourite sports without getting into any sort of trouble. With many sports betting sites available in Iceland, you can take advantage of generous bonuses and competitive odds.
Even though there is no licensing framework in Iceland, international operators are licensed elsewhere by regulatory bodies like the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) and Malta Gaming Authority (MGA). Therefore, you can trust them to be fair, support responsible gambling (you must be over 18 years old), and look after customers with superior support.
Further good news for anyone betting in Iceland is that any winnings are not subject to tax, so every cent you make from is yours to keep.
The ability to access international sites, many of which are available in Icelandic, means you don’t have to rely on the state-owned lottery and fixed-odds betting site, which do not offer the variety you get elsewhere.
The Popularity of Mobile Betting in Iceland
Icelandic sports fans love betting. Approximately 70% of the country’s adult population enjoys betting on sporting action from around the world. Most citizens (80%) own a smartphone, so finding betting sites that work well on mobile is a must.
At SBO.net, we only recommend the best sites that support mobile betting. At one time, for any betting site to work well on mobile, it needed its own app. Some betting sites still have that option, as it’s a convenient way to get to place bets fast. Once you download and install the betting app on your smartphone, you’re just one tap away from the latest markets and odds.
In recent years, mobile technology has improved fast. The best sports betting sites in Iceland have been developed using HTML5 technology. You don’t need to worry about the technicalities. It simply means you can log in and bet on your favourite sports via the mobile browser, such as Safari if you own an iPhone.
Safe Payment Methods for Icelandic Bettors
It’s easy to fund your account and start betting online in Iceland. Sites allow you to choose from an impressive range of payment methods, from cards to e-wallets and more. In most cases, deposits are instant to ensure you never miss out on a betting opportunity.
Four of the most popular deposit methods at betting sites in Iceland include:
Debit and credit cards are widely accepted by sports betting sites. Mastercard and Visa are the two most popular brands. Making your deposit is much like any other online purchase. Simply enter your card details and the amount you wish to deposit.
The funds will appear in your account instantly, and it’s easy to keep track of your spending because the money comes straight from your bank account.
PayPal is widely used in Iceland and is accepted by almost all major sports betting sites. If you have a PayPal account and like the idea of using the digital payment service to bet online, sign up with one of our recommended PayPal betting sites.
Visit the cashier and click on the PayPal logo. Select your preferred deposit amount. Following a brief automatic switch to PayPal to confirm the transaction, you will be return to the betting site where your funds will be waiting.
Skrill is another popular e-wallet that operates similarly to PayPal. You can easily link your Skrill wallet to your bank account and add funds. After you select Skrill in the cashier, you then enter the email address linked to your Skrill account and state how much you wish to deposit. The funds will be available in seconds.
Skrill was initially known as Moneybookers, a brand that was established way back in 2001 to cater specifically for online bettors.
Direct Bank Transfer
Some banks and quite a few online sports betting sites will accept direct bank transfers as a payment method. Thankfully, many banks in Iceland, such as Kaupthing Bank and Landsbankinn, have good online banking functionality and make it easy to deposit via direct bank transfer.
The process is instant, just like it is when you transfer money to friends or buy goods online.
The Most Popular Sports for Betting in Iceland
Considering Iceland has a small population of around 360,000 people, many outsiders wrongly believe the country isn’t competitive in the sporting world. The freezing climate only adds to expectations that Icelanders would not be good at outside sports, except maybe skiing or ice-skating.
But in reality, Icelanders love watching, playing and betting on all kinds of sports. Athletes and national sports teams regularly compete at a comparable sporting level with countries that are 10 to 200 times larger.
Icelanders love football and keenly follow the top European leagues, including the Premier League in England and La Liga in Spain. Their top home-grown players nearly all play abroad. One of the country’s most famous sports stars was footballer Eidur Gudjohnsen, who played for elite clubs like Chelsea and Barcelona.
Although the Úrvalsdeild karla (or Men’s Select Division) isn’t the most competitive league in the world, Iceland’s national footballers punch above their weight in international competitions.
Iceland lost to France in the quarter-finals of the 2016 European Championships after knocking out England in the previous round. Remember the Viking Thunderclap being performed by Iceland’s passionate football fans during the tournament?
Iceland’s handball team is one of the best in the world. The country won silver at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and bronze at the 2010 European Championships. The domestic Premier League is contended by 12 teams.
Icelanders enjoy watching the sport, and all good international sports betting sites offer lots of markets on handball fixtures from around the world.
The best betting sites in Iceland offer live streams on the top fixtures, meaning you can watch the action and bet in-play. To ensure you get the most competitive handball odds, it’s worth joining several sites so you can compare markets.
It’s not just popular in the US and some Eastern European countries – basketball is also a big part of Iceland’s sporting landscape.
The main domestic basketball league, the Úrvalsdeild Karla (or Men’s Premier League), is contested keenly by 12 teams, and there is a four-tier league system. The men’s international team has qualified for EuroBasket (European Basketball Championship) twice but has not made it to the FIBA World Cup.
Basketball fans in Iceland will be pleased to see that online betting sites give extensive coverage to the sport, with odds offered on fixtures from around the world, including the NBA.
Icelanders love athletics and have adored home-grown stars from track and field. The country’s record has spawned a keen interest in betting on athletics events.
Shot putter Gunnar Huseby was one of the country’s first big champions, winning gold at the European Athletics Championships in 1946 and 1950. Others saw success in the long jump and the decathlon. Vilhjalmur Einarsson was an Olympic and European triple jump medallist, while Vala Flosadottir won a pole vault medal at the 2000 Summer Olympics.
Iceland has also appeared in all but one of the Winter Olympics, missing out only in 1972. But despite so much snow and ice, Icelandic athletes are yet to win a medal at the Winter Olympics.
The History of Gambling in Iceland
Gambling has always been popular in Iceland, with over 70% of adults admitting to betting on a regularly. Lotteries, sports betting and bingo are the most common betting activities in Iceland.
Like many other countries, gambling legislation is based on historical, outdated activity and has little relevance to the fast-paced and mobile sports betting action available online today.
Here’s a timeline to show you how gambling laws in Iceland have evolved since 1926:
1926 – Lotteries and Tombola Act
The first gambling legislation in Iceland prohibited all gambling without prior permission from the Ministry of Justice, which was rarely forthcoming.
1933 – University of Iceland’s Lottery
It might seem odd by today’s standards, but the university lottery was the first regulated gambling activity. The proviso was that 80% of proceeds had to be ploughed back into the university.
1972 – Expansion of Legal Lotteries
It took another 40 years for the Government to look at gambling again, this time allowing for pools-based sports lotteries. It was the first form of sports betting in Iceland.
1986 – First State Lottery
The general national lottery began this year, and this state-backed draw grew into what we have today, a state-run online sports betting, lottery and bingo entity.
1994 – Green Light for Slot Machines
The first slot machines were allowed, but only if profits went to charity. This was the first time there was any nod towards land-based gambling because casinos and bookmakers remained unlawful.
2004 – Foreign Lotteries
European lawmakers ruled Iceland was breaking trade rules by banning foreign lotteries. They could now sell tickets so long as they gave proceeds to good local causes.
2016 – Updated Criminal Code
Iceland’s Criminal Code was introduced in 1940, but the additions of articles 183 and 184 state that it is illegal to engage in gambling and betting professionally.
And that is where we are today. You cannot be a professional gambler in Iceland, but no direct reference forbids placing a bet with international betting sites. Further, even if you were a professional gambler, who would know since you pay no tax on gambling winnings?
You do not have to pay any tax on gambling winnings in Iceland. Anything you win is tax free and for you to spend as you wish.
No. Although it is illegal to bet online in Iceland, the government does nothing to prevent citizens from placing bets at international sports betting sites. Players are not prosecuted due to a 2016 EU Court of Justice ruling, meaning you are free to bet on your favourite sports.