Tens of thousands of Israelis, 10 percent of whom are minors, last year spent NIS 125 million on illegal internet gambling sites, according to a research study quoted on Monday by the Ministry of Justice.
The statistics were included in a statement issued by the State Attorneyâ€™s Office and the police announcing that they were launching a law-enforcement campaign against the reportedly widespread phenomenon of illegal internet gambling.
The announcement came at the end of a meeting between State Attorney Eran Shendar and Police Investigation and Intelligence Unit, Cmdr. Dudi Cohen. They met on Monday to discuss an opinion prepared by attorney Maor Even-Chen of the State Attorneyâ€™s economic department. Even-Chen studied the phenomenon of illegal internet gambling in the wake of complaints filed with the state prosecution.
According to Even-Chenâ€™s study, the annual growth rate of illegal internet gambling over the past few years in Israel stands at 38%.
He wrote that the easy availability of internet gambling had many negative consequences including creating addiction, involving adolescents in the phenomenon, providing opportunities for money laundering and other crimes, and the loss of capital to the local economy.
Shendar and Cohen decided on Monday to concentrate their actions against intermediaries who mad the gambling possible and those who advertised its availability.
The law enforcement authorities would take action against newspapers, magazines, television networks and internet sites that advertised the illegal gambling sites.
It would also take action against credit card companies that made it possible for gamblers to put their money down on the gambling games.