The parliament in Iceland has lifted a ban on public gatherings and gambling on religious holidays. The lawmakers voted in favour of lifting the ban earlier this week..
In Iceland gambling on Sundays and on religious holidays was illegal. The law restricting Icelanders from participating in any kind of gambling activity including lottery and Bingo was passed in 1997. Following the 1997 regulation, engaging in public gathering and gambling on religious holidays was also illegal.
However, the law had significant opposition from many social groups. Earlier in February 2019, a bill calling for lifting the ban was introduced by Independence Party MP and former Attorney General Sigríður Á. Andersen.
Apart from annulling the ban on gambling on religious holidays, the new bill also makes void the provision of the earlier law which said that the “hotel operations and related services, the operation of pharmacies, gas stations, car garages, shops at airports and duty free, flower shops, kiosks, video rentals, as well as grocers with a retail space of less than 600 square metres (6,458 sq ft) where at least two thirds of the sales turnover is from foodstuffs, beverages, and tobacco.”
The bill was introduced by Independence Party MP and former Attorney General Sigríður Á. Andersen in February. It was approved with 44 votes in its favour on Tuesday and had support on both sides of the political spectrum, although this was not true among Centre Party MPs, all of whom voted against it.
Lawmaker Sigríður said through her social media post that “…the bill was not intended to decrease the significance of religious holidays. The days in question are part of our Christian heritage and as such, they should of course be commemorated as they arise. However, everyone must get to do this in their own way.”