Human Rights Court Takes On Iceland Gambling Addict’s Case for $623,000 State Compensation

  • Case involving Karlsson already dismissed twice and rejected by Supreme Court of Appeal
  • Citizen says Iceland contradicts own laws on gambling with slot machine licenses legal since '94
  • ECHR to consider if he is entitled to state compensation for emotional and financial harm
777 land on slot machine reels inside gambling establishment
A citizen of Iceland will be taking his country’s government to the European Court of Human Rights over claims that it has broken its penal code on gambling by legalizing slot machines. [Image:]

Breaking the law

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has taken on the case of Icelandic citizen Guðlaugur Jakob Karlsson after he argued that the country’s state is breaking the law.

Karlsson is taking the government to court over his gambling addiction. The plaintiff believes his compulsion stems from slot machines, which he maintains are against the law.

taking the government to court over his gambling addiction

Iceland, which is not a member of the EU, has made casino gambling illegal but still permits smaller activities such as slot machines, the lottery, and scratch cards.

Licenses available for slot machines

According to Article 183 of Iceland’s Penal Code, gambling is prohibited yet the government allows licenses for slot machine operation. These have been legal since 1994.

Karlsson initially filed a damages claim against the Icelandic state in 2016, but his concerns were dismissed by the Reykavik District Court in October 2017. Despite it moving to the Court of Appeal, the claim was again dismissed in October 2018. An application to the Supreme Court of Iceland for the right of appeal was later rejected.

Icelandic newspaper Morgunblaðið recently reported that the case has now been picked up by the ECHR. The court will look at whether Karlsson is entitled to the ISK76,800,000 ($623,000) he is demanding in addition to compensation for legal expenses.

court will look at whether Karlsson is entitled to the ISK76,800,000 ($623,000) he is demanding

Karlsson maintains he has suffered both emotional and financial harm as a result of his addiction.

Pivotal case for Iceland

The plaintiff’s attorney, Þórður Sveinsson, deems the case a pivotal one for the question of gambling in Iceland. He said, “Slot machines are allowed, which are defined as the most extreme form of gambling. And then people are charged for inviting others to play roulette and poker for money.”

Sveinsson confirmed the case to be on the ECHR’s agenda, although there is no date set for the hearing yet.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *