Should Online Gambling in Israel Be Legal?

There aren’t many legal gambling options available in Israel. The options that are available, however, are more popular than ever before. Many are now calling for online gambling in Israel to finally become legal and regulated.

Gambling has been a hot topic in Israel for years. Most agree that the country would earn millions in additional revenue each year with legalization of the internet gambling industry. Let’s look at the current set of laws here, and the chances of it becoming legal.

Land-Based and Online Gambling Laws in Israel

The specific legality of online gambling in Israel lies in somewhat of a gray area. The main legislation used to regulate the gambling industry here is the Israeli Penal Law 5737 of 1977. Under these set of laws, only limited forms of sports betting and the lottery are legal.

Unfortunately, Penal Law 5737 does not specifically mention the legality of online gambling. In 2005, Israel’s Attorney General claimed that all forms of internet gambling are illegal, and that verdict seems to have stuck.

There is, however, still confusion over the legality of gambling through websites based overseas. Many of the best online gambling sites in Europe are available in Israel. The government has no way to monitor and tax these websites.

Land-based casino gambling is completely banned as well. This has led to many illegal, underground casino venues to open up.

It’s clear that gambling laws in Israel are outdated. Thousands of individuals and several powerful politicians in the country are now calling for a change to the regulations.

Online Gambling in Israel Is More Popular Than Ever

A ban on internet gambling isn’t unique to Israel. Many countries around the world have deemed it illegal. As you might expect, a huge number of people in these countries still choose to make bets over the internet, despite laws against it.

This is certainly the case in Israel. Many individuals here play casino games and make sports wagers online every single day. As we just mentioned, most of this is done through foreign gambling sites.

Some lawmakers in Israel have looked at the UK as a gold standard for online gambling regulations. The United Kingdom has one of the largest and most successful internet gaming markets on the planet. This industry helped to bring in millions of dollars via taxes every year.

Even the UK has its own issues with this industry, though. Gambling addiction is on the rise, prompting the government to launch a “National Strategy” to set new regulations on the industry.

Fortunately, Israel’s government is finally beginning to take a closer look at online gambling legislation.

Israel Deems Poker a “Game of Skill”

Under Israeli law, all forms of gambling that are a “game of chance” are illegal. In the past, this applied to most forms of sports betting and casino gaming. In January of this year, Israel’s Supreme Court ruled that poker is a game of skill.

Almost immediately after, Sharren Haskel, a member of the Knesset for Likud, proposed a new bill to make poker tournaments legal. This would also make poker legal inside licensed gaming establishments. The passing of this bill would even make online poker in Israel legal!

This isn’t the first time that lawmakers here have worked to allow casino-style gambling. In 2015, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu proposed plans for a casino in Eilat. These plans were eventually shut down.

Plans to fully legalize poker are ongoing. If approved, full-fledged online gambling may be just around the corner. It’s an exciting time for gambling fans here.

Do you think Israel should legalize online gambling? Will it happen in the next five years? Let us know in the comment section below!

Kevin Oldroyd

A longtime sports and gambling enthusiast, Kevin looks to present up-to-date and reliable information for readers. If he’s not writing, he’s probably watching MMA or playing blackjack.

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