Reykjavík police stopped the first public poker tournament held in Iceland on Saturday and confiscated all objects used at the tournament, including poker tables, chips and cards. Gambling for a living is illegal in Iceland.
Over 150 people participated in the tournament and each player paid a fee of ISK 4,000 (USD 64, EUR 48), which was collected for an award worth ISK 600,000 (USD 9,600, EUR 7,200), Morgunbladid reports.
The tournament began at 2 pm on Saturday and police arrived to the scene one hour later. Police returned at 7.30 pm with a lawyer, stopped the tournament and cleared the building. Less than 30 people were still playing and the tournament was nearly over.
Sindri Lúdvíksson, the tournament’s organizer, told Morgunbladid that he had been very surprised by the police’s actions, because he did not believe anything illegal had taken place.
Lúdvíksson said the fee that had been collected was a so-called rake, a scaled commission fee taken by a casino operating a poker game. It is generally five to ten percent of the pot in each poker hand.
Lúdvíksson stated similar fees were collected when people were playing bridge or bingo, which is legal in Iceland, and said it is unfair that playing for money should only be illegal when playing poker.
According to police, the case is currently being investigated as a violation of the financial laws. The 183rd article of the Penal Code no. 19/1940 states (unofficial translation): “Those who gamble for a living […] should be fined or imprisoned for up to one year.”
The 184th article of the Penal Code no. 19/1940 states: “Those who profit, directly or indirectly, from organizing gambling in facilities that they are responsible for, should be fined or imprisoned for up to one year.”