Israel to ban racing and gambling machines

5 August 2016

Israel is set to outlaw gambling machines and horse racing betting in a clampdown on the gaming industry.

Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon and Justice Ministry Director General Emi Palmor announced the measures at a joint press conference following the release of a report by the Commission on Gambling Regulations, a joint think-tank led by the heads of the two ministries.

The ministers said they would implement all of the report’s recommendations, including a limit on the size of the legal gambling sector, a prohibition on operating games with an addictive nature, a tax raise on money earned through gambling and a number of other limitations.

At present, the only authorities licensed to provide gambling services are Mifal HaPayis, which operates the Israeli national lottery and gambling machines, and the Sports Betting Council, which manages betting on various sports events, including horse racing.

The announcement is set to end any hopes of Israel allowing casinos, despite the government publishing a study on the potential benefits earlier this year.

Kahlon said: “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 neighbourhoods. It is also not a coincidence that we see a sharp rise in lottery revenue the day after welfare checks are sent out every month.

“Unregulated gambling exclusively and deliberately targets and hurts the country’s weakest communities so as long as I am finance minister, there will be no casinos in Israel."

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