Israel To Build Casino Resort In The Desert?December 12, 2013 3:56 pm
In October, Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval visited Israel on a trade mission along with 50 business leaders, and during his discussions with Israel’s political leaders the possibility of introducing gambling to the Jewish state were raised.
Speaking recently on the subject, Los Angeles-based consul general David Siegel, commented: “I think it’s an area of interest. It’s not in the tangible phase yet, but it’s something that we’re looking at.”
One of the locations highlighted by Siegel as a potential casino site is a semi-desert region of southern Israel called the Negev Desert, which is also about 50 miles south of Beersheba, home to the luxury Beresheet Hotel in Mitzpe Ramon. The desert town is also a fast developing tourist mecca, and home to a huge 25 miles long and five miles wide crater, the biggest on the planet.
Interestingly, the Negev region covers 60% of Israel’s land mass but is home to just 8% of the country’s population. Similarly, in 1930 when Nevada legalized gambling, Las Vegas had a small population of around 5,000 people, but now the city has 596,424 residents and attracts a massive 40 million visitors a year.
Sandoval’s latest trade mission was seen as a way to focus on ways Israel and Nevada can further develop their business enterprises together. Nevada already enjoys many trade ties with Israel, and last year The Silver State’s exports to Israel totaled $129 million, while Israel exported $144 million to Nevada. One of those ties is Las Vegas Sands Corp.’s CEO Sheldon Adelson, a major benefactor of Israel and owner of Maariv, its largest newspaper.
At this early stage, however, Sands spokesman Ron Reese said; “the company’s not currently actively involved in pursuing gaming opportunities in Israel.” In addition, any move towards gambling development in Israel would have to first overcome many significant hurdles, in a country where multiple political parties and diverse business interests are in play.