Gambling in Israel is a convoluted issue. On one side gambling is strictly forbidden by the Penal Law. On the other hand, other activities incidental to gambling thrive in the Israeli economy. Moreover, the government of Israel enjoys a monopoly over all forms of lottery and sports betting. This is, however, only a tip of the iceberg of what is a deep-seated sense of irony when it comes to the regulation of Gambling in the Middle-Eastern technology powerhouse.
Gambling Laws in Israel
As noted earlier, all forms of gambling are prohibited in Israel except the national sports betting and a national lottery. This was affected by the Penal Law 5737-1977 and the Prohibited Games, Lotteries and Betting. These pieces of legislation define the prohibited games, places of prohibited games, lottery, and betting to canvass all major forms of gambling. The law also clearly prohibits “participating in prohibited games.” However, there is an added exclusion on social gambling which is broadly defined as betting that:
- Is intended for a particular circle of people
- does not exceed the scope of amusement, and or entertainment, and
- is not held in places of prohibited games or a place for the conduct of lotteries or betting
Regardless of the above definition, the courts have narrowly construed the meaning of gambling to include instances where no money changes hands.
The National Lottery or “Mifal Hapayis” as it is called in Hebrew was established in 1951. It offers scratch games, a weekly lottery, and small raffle games. The Ministry of Finance oversees the National Lottery. The Israel Sports Betting Board is in charge of all sports betting. The board was established in 1967.
For a long period, the law only prohibited social gambling. Local companies were restricted from offering their services for Israeli citizens. Online gambling was still a grey area in the law. This is probably so because the law did not contemplate web-based transactions which form part of extra-territorial jurisdiction.
However, in 2005, the Attorney General issued orders requiring gambling operations targeting the Israeli population to be shut down. The order was also directed to payment providers such as credit card companies and banks which had a hand in process online gambling transaction. The ban instituted a nationwide raid on online operators who had a local presence in Israel and marketed their services to residents.
This crackdown did not affect online operators whose offices were not in the country. The only attempt made to prohibit the overseas operators was to block the Internet Service Providers. This was, nevertheless, stopped by the Supreme Court.
From a legal standpoint, it seems that the only companies that could offer gambling services in Israel should not have a physical presence in the country and should not target Israeli national directly. If these two conditions are met, then Israeli players can freely engage in gaming operations without the consequence of the law, at least about the operators.
Online Casinos in Israel
The best part about being in Israel is that players can experience the latest technology first-hand. The best new games are often launched in this country. This gives Israeli players a chance to sample games before other countries. Despite this, there are not a lot of local gambling options for the people of Israel. One needs to look across the borders to find a suitable and approved Israeli casino. Luckily, there are more casinos today accepting shekels as a means of payment. Some of these have been listed here for your convenience. For the best Israeli online casinos, players may read online reviews specific to the country.
It is hard to locate regulated Israeli casinos online. This is because the national law does not issue licenses to betting companies. However, the regulated Israeli casinos that will be referred to in this article are those that have received approval from international vetting bodies like eCOGRA, the UK Gambling Commission, and others.
Find some of the recommended Israeli online casinos listed below:
- 777 Casino
- SuperLenny Casino
- Drift Casino
- Kaboo casino
- Mucho Vegas Casino
- Thrills Casino
- Diamond Reels Casino
- Sloty Casino
- Casino X
- Free Spins Casino
- Ovo casino, and
- Kajot Casino
All Israeli casinos offer bonuses to new players. Moreover, they are licensed by internationally recognized institutions and authorities. Israeli casino bonuses will accrue to players who fulfill the conditions outlined in the bonus policies.
Popular Games and Betting
The locally managed gambling establishments are restricted to offering lottery and sports betting. It is no wonder that they are the most popular games. However, a few souls that visit Israeli casinos online are taken captive by the indulging slot games, roulette titles, and blackjack tables. Some of the later games are also played socially among friends and family.
Banking Options in Israel
The country is a technology hub. The same extends to its financial sector. Numerous methods facilitate online transactions in online casinos. However, since gambling is strictly restricted, local methods like bank transfers, wire transfers, and checks are often foregone in favor of more anonymous payment methods like e-wallets and cryptocurrency.
Find the Best Online Casinos in Israel 2020
The easiest way to find online casinos is by looking at internet reviews. Many sites offer this service. These sites will give a player insight on what to look for when visiting Israeli casinos. The main pointers are:
- Look for regulated Israeli casinos
- Online Israeli casinos offer bonuses to their players. It is essential to look for the best Israeli online casino bonuses
- Payment options should also be abundant
- The casino should also offer faster payment times
Brief History of Gambling in Israel
Israel hosts some of the biggest operators in the online gambling industry. William Hill Casino is one of the oldest casino brands in the world. It was founded way back in 1934 and has enjoyed a seat at the high table in the United Kingdom and other European nations. It was not until 2008 that the operator decided to venture into online gambling. Through a partnership with Playtech, whose largest shareholder is an Israeli national, William Hill entered the lucrative market of online gaming. The partnership was so successful that after only three short years, William Hill bought out its Israeli partner for an extravagant $460 million.
Since then, Israel has become an essential hub for William Hill operations. The company is located on the 32nd floor of a modern skyscraper in the middle of Tel Aviv. The company has mentored a once small company NeoGames to inextricable heights of Israeli stardom.
Despite its success, William Hill does not offer any of its services to the population of Israel. It must be difficult for the 250 employees who work for the company to come to work every day on a service they cannot access, at least not legally. It is further puzzling for a country that has a tough stance on gambling to look away on other matters incidental to gambling. Perhaps Israel maintains a separate face for its economic policies which seem to take precedence over social amenities and facilities like gambling.
William Hill is not an isolated case; it is just the elephant in the room. Many other casinos have set up offices in Israel. One other big operator is 888 Holdings which also enjoys the hospitality of the Israeli government. Israel is one of the most sought-after markets in the casino industry. This is because it is one of the most technologically advanced nations outside the West. Therefore, operators can enjoy services straight from the horse’s mouth.
The operators, however, are restricted from marketing their products outside Israel. They may employ Israeli labor but only that. Any other activities outside marketing could lead the operators losing their licenses. To fully grasp the extent of the law, it is imperative to look at some of the legal texts that regulate the gaming industry in the country.
Developing case law in Israel indicates that there might be a change in the attitudes against gambling, however small. It is just a matter of time when the economy will demand more from the many sprouting casino operators in Israel.