Israel Says No To Expansion of Gambling Industry

Israel is noted for its tough attitude towards gambling, with the country of 8 million people only allowing two forms of gambling within its borders, namely the state-run national lottery known as the Mifal Hapayis, and the sports betting council’s weekly, Toto. There had been hopes, however, that more games could eventually be added to the gambling mix after the government commissioned a special committee to produce a report exploring ways to increase the efficiency of the country’s gambling industry, while also reducing its social costs.

Those hopes have now been dashed after the committee recommended that slot machines and horse racing should continue to be banned in Israel, whilst also flatly rejecting the call from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to consider allowing for a legalized casino industry. Having studied the committee’s findings, the Israeli minister of finance, Moshe Kahlon (photo), has subsequently left no doubt as to his attitude towards a gambling expansion in Israel, stating:

“Israel’s weakest and poorest are being sold illusions and false hopes every day. As of next year, there will not be a single gambling machine or any horse racing in Israel. It is no coincidence that these gambling machines are found mostly in poor neighborhoods.”

The report further recommends that growth in Israel’s gambling market should be capped at 3% per year, instead of its current level of around 10%, and that the resulting loss of income could be off-set by reducing the money given to those Government bodies responsible for regulating Israel’s gambling industry. In addition, Mifal Hapayis and Toto have both been told to slash their advertising costs, and to reduce the commissions paid on their franchise sales.

On the other hand, the committee has also recommended increasing funding to Israel’s gambling enforcement agency by around $5 million per year, in order to stem an epidemic of illegal gambling which is currently costing Israel up to $4 billion a year, or roughly 1% of its GDP.

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