Poker To Be Legalized In Israel?

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Israel could end up legalizing poker soon, provided a bill proposing the legalization manages to gain acceptance in the country’s legislature, the Knesset. The bill was introduced after Israel’s Supreme Court determined that Poker was a game of skill and that its outcome was not dependent on luck.


Poker has always been banned in Israel, and any individual engaging in the game illegally could typically face prison time of a year. Those organizing illegal poker games or tournaments were subject to imprisonment for up to three years.


However, the recent ruling made by Supreme Court Judge Neal Hendel categorizes poker as a game of skill. He cited the practice and popularity of holding poker tournaments and contests as evidence for his statement.


Not long after the ruling was passed, Sharren Haskel, a member of the Likud Party, came up with a bill requesting the legalization of poker. The bill promotes poker as a game of skill, in line with the updated definition provided by the Supreme Court.


Additionally, the bill also creates room for the organization of poker tournaments in the country and abroad. As stated earlier, this too has been banned by Israel.


Regulation and tax


The bill comes with provisions for regulating the Israeli Poker Players Association (IPPA). The IPPA will be given the duty of organizing international and national poker tournaments. However, the game itself will be overseen by the Finance Ministry. It will also collect tax revenue from the tournaments held nationally.


According to Haskel, Israeli poker players have brought pride to the state in several competitions, and now, with the Supreme Court updating the definition and legalizing the game, they should be allowed to take part in tournaments and contests in their own country.


The Knesset has tabled Haskel’s bill, and it is yet to be seen whether or not the bill will gain any support.


Despite the decriminalization of poker, lawmakers are still determined to put an end to illegal gambling services. Gambling in Israel is highly regulated. Just last month, the Tel Aviv District ordered the closure of three gambling websites that targeted Israel audiences.


The ruling was made on the basis of a 2017 law that permitted District Courts to prevent access to unauthorized gambling operations. The sites taken down as a result of the court order were Totobet777, P2V, and Russian bookmaker 1xBet.




About the Author

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