Directorate of Health supports gambling bill proposal

28.05.2021 - 14:33
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 Mynd: Kveikur - RÚV
The Directorate of Health has thrown its weight behind a proposal to ban gambling machines in Iceland. The opinion comes in the form of a formal comment on a bill to Alþingi submitted by two MPs.

There are currently two licenced operators of gambling machines in Iceland and the bill recommends providing them with financial compensation for four years after the machines are banned, if the bill passes. 

The Directorate of Health points to overseas research into gambling addiction that indicates that gambling machines are the single most addictive form of gambling, because they trick people into believing they are in control by providing regular, small pay-outs. The games appear to be based on random chance, with the ability to stop individual spinning wheels appearing to add an element of control. In reality, as the saying has it, “the house always wins”.  

Gambling machines have been outlawed in Norway since 2007 and research suggests 90 percent of people there who sought help for gambling addiction were regular users of such machines. Separate research in Sweden suggests that 70 percent of gambling machine takings come from people with gambling problems. 

The Icelandic bill to ban the machines was put to Alþingi by Inga Sæland and Guðmundur Ingi Kristinsson from Flokkur fólksins (the People’s Party). 

Gambling machines in Iceland are run by Íslandsspil (on behalf of the Red Cross and the ICE-SAR search & rescue operation, as well as for the SÁÁ addiction charity until April), and by the University of Iceland. They provide important funding for good causes that the bill’s backers propose covering with public money for four years. 

The bill is in committee before it reaches Alþingi for debate. The bill follows a call last November from the alliance of people concerned with gambling addiction to ban gambling machines in Iceland. 

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