Gambling betting chips 311.
(photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)
The State Attorney’s Office filed an indictment to the Rishon Lezion
Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday against four men accused of helping to organize
gambling, money laundering and tax evasion.
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Yoel Azari, Yair Azari, Meir
Mizrachi and Golan Shaul are accused of distributing prepaid gambling cards
worth around $15 million for international gambling websites. The card sales
netted the defendants around NIS 4 million.
The gambling sites issue the
prepaid cards in order to evade Israeli authorities.
prohibited in Israel – with the notable exceptions of the National Lottery and
the Israeli Commission for Sports Betting.
Since 2007, it has also been
illegal for Israeli credit card companies to deal with online
However, Internet gambling remains so popular that Victor
Chandler’s site even offers services entirely in Hebrew – although Israeli ISPs
are banned by law from connecting to it.
So though both the Victor
Chandler and Stan James websites are based and operate abroad, Israeli gamblers
cannot use their credit cards to sign up.
According to the indictments,
filed by State Attorneys Yair Goichman and Ben-Ami Cohen, the four defendants
obtained thousands of cards and sold them under the auspices of a company, MYM
Ltd, to kiosks and individuals around the country, who then sold them to
The defendants also transferred large sums of money of almost
$9 million from the card sales to Victor Chandler and Stan
However, most of the income was not reported to the tax
authorities, and according to the state around $10 million was deposited into
several foreign bank accounts.
The indictments came after what the State
Attorney’s Office described as a “complex covert and overt operation” by the
police’s Lahav 433 special unit.
In a statement, the State Attorney’s
Office said the investigation and indictments demonstrate “another step in the
economic enforcement against the Internet gambling phenomenon” and added that
further indictments may be filed against others involved in this
This is not the first time that international gambling companies
have come up against strict Israeli anti-gambling laws. In 2007, the British
owner of Victor Chandler, Michael Carlton, was detained during a trip to
Judge Avraham Heiman in the Rishon Lezion Magistrate’s Court
later ruled that Carlton and Victor Chandler had violated laws banning the
advertising of gambling.