Israel is a country that has a rich history. Currently, it is known as one of the wealthiest countries in the world, provoking the appetite of many casino operators to target this gambling market. However, the Israeli authorities took a firm stance regarding gambling activities. Generally speaking, the gambling legislation in Israel bans most of the gambling activities in Israel under the Israeli Penal Law 5737 that came into power as far back as 1977.
For quite some years, Israeli politicians are discussing the possibility of regulating the gambling industry in order to boost the country’s coffers and protect the players’ interests. While some of the politicians are supporting this idea, others are fervently opposing it. When it comes to online gambling, Israeli law does not state anything. The ban on most gambling activities in Israel pushed casino enthusiasts to place bets at “underground” gambling establishments or remote casinos.
<h2>Gambling Regulations in Israel</h2>
At first glance, the situation in Israel does not look that complex – gambling is forbidden. If you delve deeper, you will see that things are more complicated than they seem to be. Under the Israeli legislative framework, gambling is banned. Two gambling activities are legal in Israel, and these include the national lottery and the national sports betting. The former is regulated by the Ministry of Finance, while the latter is overseen by the Israel Sports Betting Board. Permits for gambling activities are issued only to the state-owned National Lottery (Mifal Hapayis).
As for the online gambling industry, the law does not state anything. This led to several operators offering their gambling services to Israeli people. In 2005, the Israeli Attorney General announced that all forms of online gambling are forbidden and he issued orders to stop such operators and fined card companies that processed transactions for such web-based casinos. The gambling ban in Israel has come under criticism as it was stated that it stimulates illegal gambling activities and the economy is affected in a negative way.
As for now, many politicians are trying to change this situation, but it seems that it is harder than expected. However, the security forces and religious groups are against the regulation of online gambling, which makes the situation quite heated. Currently, you cannot find a land-based casino in Israel that is offering popular casino games such as blackjack, roulette, poker, etc. Our global practice guide provides in-depth information on the current gambling regulatory climate in Israel
<h2>The Future of the Gambling Industry in Israel</h2>
The truth is that some Israeli people are so fond of gambling activities, so they do not hesitate to play at an offshore web-based casino. There is no statistics regarding the amount of money Israeli casino enthusiasts spend every year on their favorite activity, but it is believed that the illegal online gambling market in Israel is worth approximately $3.5 billion.
Although the Israeli practical law and legislative framework ban gambling throughout the country, casino enthusiasts are not penalized for playing at offshore online casinos. The government is still trying to patrol the Internet gambling and prevent citizens from gaining access to such casinos. However, the strict regulations do not turn residents away from online gambling.
The government’s latest attempt to prevent Israeli players from accessing web-based casinos is the introduction of ISPs that blocks certain gambling websites. Paradoxically, you can find even videos on YouTube explaining how to bypass this protection in a few seconds.
Needless to say, the regulations in Israel are outdated and the authorities should consider relaxing the laws regarding gambling. According to industry insiders, it is a matter of time for Israel to take steps towards regulating its gambling industry.
In January 2019, the Supreme Court of Israel proposed a bill that states poker is a game of skill. Assuming that the bill passes, it will make playing poker a legal activity. It is interesting to mention that this is not the first time that lawmakers tried to regulate casino-style gambling. In 2015, a plan for a casino in Eilat was placed on the table for discussion, but it was not approved. However, the grounds for regulating the online gambling industry are laid and a growing number of lawmakers seem to embrace this idea.