Grapevine: Legal gambling at Tel Aviv Port

Let the Animals Live animal rights organization hosts the casino event; all proceeds will go toward a specially equipped animal ambulance.

Street dog cute 521 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Street dog cute 521
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
■ OTHER THAN Mifal Hapayis, the national lottery, and Toto, the national soccer lottery, gambling is still illegal in Israel, and all attempts by entrepreneurs such as Sheldon Adelson, Martin Schlaff and others to open a casino in Israel have failed, because the legislators will not give casinos the green light.
Schlaff was involved in the construction and operation of the Oasis Casino in Jericho, which drew huge crowds of Israelis every night for the first two years after its opening in 1998 until it suspended operations in September 2000, following the outbreak of the first intifada. It was later renovated, but the IDF would not allow Israelis to enter Jericho; so both the owners and the would-be clientele were frustrated.
Adelson has set up fabulously luxurious casinos in Las Vegas, Macau and Singapore, but he can’t get a license for Eilat. The upshot is that those Israelis who want to do some serious gambling either do so illegally, or cross the border from Eilat to Taba.
However tomorrow night, Saturday, there will be legal gambling at Trask in the Tel Aviv Port. The Let the Animals Live animal rights organization is celebrating 25 years of saving, protecting and finding new places for four-legged creatures that could use a good home and a good dose of TLC. All proceeds from the event will go toward a specially equipped animal ambulance.
Gamblers will have a choice of roulette, blackjack, poker and other games of chance.
Dealing will be the stars of the Big Brother reality TV show and even a couple of lawmakers – Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan and MKs Eitan Cabel and Yoel Hasson, among others, have promised to attend. Among the celebrities who will put their faith in Lady Luck are Orna Banai, known as a fierce advocate for animal rights, Michaela Berku, Mickey Haimovitch, Eli Ildes and Kobi Oshrat.
■ ON WEDNESDAY of this week, the IDF Disabled Veterans Organization inaugurated its fourth Beit Halohem Center in the presence of Defense Minister Ehud Barak and other political dignitaries, as well as mayors of cities and towns in the South. The precarious security situation of recent days did not deter more than 80 donors and supporters from abroad from coming to Israel to join the hundreds of locals celebrating the launch at a festive ceremony in Beersheba.
The $80-million facility was made possible by donations from Jews around the globe, spearheaded by the New York-based Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust, which donated $2m. toward the construction.
Representing more than 50,000 disabled IDF veterans, Beit Halohem (House of the Combatant) is a network of centers in Tel Aviv, Haifa, Jerusalem and now Beersheba that provide rehabilitation therapy, sports and recreational activities.
The Beersheba facility will serve more than 2,500 disabled veterans and their families living in the south of the country, as well as civilian victims of terrorism.
■ DURING MAY, Shekel, which provides community services for people with special needs, is hosting its annual international film festival – challenging the disability concept – at Cinematheques in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Sderot, Haifa, Rosh Pina and Holon. Readers are advised to check listings at their local Cinematheque for exact dates. The title of the film festival is Shekel – Reframing Reality. It illustrates how people in situations of individual distress cope with a variety of inabilities.
■ TEL AVIV University is kvelling not only because of the visit this week by Spanish Crown Prince Felipe – a rare royal treat – but also because the film Eva, directed by Dor Fadlon, who studied at TAU’s film school, has been accepted for the Tribeca film festival. Out of 2,862 films that were submitted in the Exit Strategies category, Eva was one of 59 chosen.
After completing his army service, Fadlon toyed with the idea of studying medicine but suddenly switched and enrolled in the poetry program at TAU, and then turned toward film directing. The Tribeca Festival begins on April 20 in New York, and continues till May 1.
■ THIS WEEK the Faire Fund, whose partners Zalman Shoval and Shlomo Grofman specialize in building prestige dwellings in different parts of the country, hosted a reception at the showcase apartment in the complex they have constructed at Rehov Hayarkon 96, diagonally opposite the Dan Hotel. The project includes a penthouse priced at NIS 120m., which makes it one of the most expensive in Israel.
The project is one of a number of high-class residential and commercial buildings that have risen across both north and south Tel Aviv over the past decade or so, with architects and building contractors constantly outdoing each other.
Grofman served for many years as CEO of the Africa Israel Group for Investments, and also served two terms as mayor of Holon. Shoval, a banker, politician, diplomat and real-estate developer, has served two terms as Israel’s ambassador to the United States and was also an MK and a foreign affairs adviser to several of Israel’s prime ministers. He continues to play an active role in the politics and economics of Israel.