According to the Israeli Penal law 5737, established in 1977, gambling, including online gambling is illegal in the country. Therefore no legal or official casino can operate in the country, and all types of gambling apart from the lottery and sports betting are forbidden. Despite this, the underground gambling industry in the country is booming as many Israelis have turned to illegal gambling, creating a market worth over $2 billion.
Online gambling only became a thing recently and wasn’t in existence in 1997. This innovation has made online gambling in the country a hugely contested topic. According to the law, however, online gambling was not stated explicitly as being illegal. This controversy was made clear by the Israeli Attorney General, who, in a statement, said that online gambling in the country is unlawful based on the Penal law 5737 of 1997, in 2005. This statement led to the closure of all online gambling companies that operated in the country. Credit card companies that supported transactions between online casinos and Israelis were punished. This regulation resulted in the total shutdown of all legal online gambling activities in the country up to this day.
Are there still gambling activities in Israel?
Despite the shutdown, several online casinos outside the country still provide services to Israeli customers. The Israeli government may argue that these online casinos are operating illegally; however, their operation is still in line with the country’s laws. Israeli customers have several issues to deal with because these casino websites are blocked by ISPs making it hard to carry out transactions using those platforms. However, many Israeli customers carry out their operations on these sites by using bank alternatives (cryptocurrencies), foreign bank accounts, and Virtual Private Networks (VPNs).
Apart from these online casinos outside the country, there are also several unofficial or illegal land-based casinos operating in the country. This unlawful operation has led to the repeated inspection and examination of the laws restricting gambling in the country. Many people argue that the country should try to copy other states that have benefitted from relaxing their laws restricting gambling, which have regulated and created a safe gambling environment for their citizens. There is also the added advantage of it helping the country’s economy. Canada is an example of a country revolutionizing and advancing in its online casino regulations. And according to our sources from Betsafe Canada, the country is much enjoying the benefits.
The laws restricting gambling in Israel were previously copied from the British system. However, when the British government realized that the ban on gambling moved the industry underground. They moved to relax their laws, which has made the gambling industry safer and well regulated to ensure fairness.
There is a gambling market in Israel, and it’s prepared for a change
Despite the disagreement between Israeli citizens on gambling, the fact remains that the country’s gambling industry has a huge market with several reports putting the markets worth $3.5 billion each year.
Apart from that, many gambling companies and sports betting worldwide now offer several online games in Hebrew to take part in the continuously growing market in the country. More than 150 online casinos currently offer games in English and Hebrew. They have also included Israeli Shekels in their payment processors.
Without a doubt, the market exists. All that is left is for the politicians to make a move to ensure the market works in the country’s favor or to make it even more impossible for the gambling industry to operate.
The Supreme Court of Israel announced Poker to be a game of skill in January 2019, making it legal for the Israeli citizens to play Poker. This declaration is because the Israeli penal code affects all games that depended more on chance than on skill. This move branded poker a game of skill rather than gambling. Today, many people in the country are expecting poker tournaments to be legal soon, thanks to a bill proposed by Sharren Kaskel, a member of Likud Knesset. If the statement is successful, this will make Poker a fair game both in land-based facilities and online.
Through the years, people have made several attempts to make some changes. An example is seen in 2015 when Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu had plans to establish a casino in Eilat. However, his proposal wasn’t successful, and they shut it down. Despite this, there are signs that the existing laws concerning online gambling and gambling, in general, might see a change in the country. It might not mean that Israel will become the center of the East’s gambling, but the probability of changes to its gambling law is there. Online casinos, in particular, may begin games operating in Israel if they regroup games similar to games such as Poker as a game of skill. Although it may not be possible to play games such as Roulette in the country, the Supreme Court may soon regroup the other sports such as Backgammon and chess.