Israel’s Ban on Gambling: Will it be Lifted?

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Even though Israel follows Britain’s legal framework, there is one exception which has changed in recent years: the legality of gambling. In Britain, legislators agreed that a gambling ban is not only ineffective but is also making the country lose out billions of pounds that could have been generated in revenue.


In fact, a 15 percent tax was levied on all gross profits that punters made through sports betting, and in January 2010, it was reported that Britain earned revenue of almost £6 billion, equal to a whopping 0.5 percent of the country’s GDP. In addition to the monetary benefits of legalizing and regulating gambling, sports betting and casinos, the gambling industry also helps with any unemployment issue. In the UK, the industry employs as many as 100,000 people.


Gambling in Israel: A grey area


The question of whether gambling is legal in Israel is a confusing one because even though Israeli Law clearly bans it in the Israeli Penal Law 5737 of 1977, this same law does not address the legality of online gambling at all. However, in 2005, the Attorney General ordered Israel-based online gambling operators to be closed. Not only this, but he also penalized credit card companies which had processed transactions related to online gambling.


Today, the legality of gambling is still as confusing as it has always been, and no steps have been taken to shine some light on the situation. While attorneys stand by laws that strongly ban casino gambling with severe consequences for any offender, lottery and sports betting are allowed by Israeli law.


Land-based casinos in Israel are non-existent, at least out in the open. The strict ban has led to the rise of underground casinos that operate in secrecy. This is dangerous because it is unregulated, and can lead to various problems for all parties involved. It is due to these reasons that recently, the Israeli ban on gambling has been under a lot of criticism.


Contrary to operating in secrecy and being unregulated, lifting the gambling ban will provide space for a safe and regulated gambling industry. In addition, employment opportunities and monetary benefits are also available since it is a heavily taxable industry.


Even though Israel adopted the gambling ban from Britain, it does not look like it will follow Britain’s footsteps in legalizing gambling and land-based casinos any time soon. But, only time will tell.

About the Author

- iGaming & land based specialist reporter for the global gaming market