Gambling in the age of Israeli hi-tech revolution

Will Eilat be turned into Israel's Las Vegas? While public opinion remains split, authorities are looking for a viable solution.

 (photo credit: INGIMAGE)
(photo credit: INGIMAGE)

The 21st century has brought new changes and evolved various nations worldwide into one global community, where economies are intertwined, and local trends develop into influential shifts on a macro level.


Israel, in particular, has been witnessing a major economic transformation, which made some political leaders see the need to reassess traditional beliefs related to such controversial issues as land-based and online gambling regulations.



Israel faces new challenges


After a series of amendments in Israeli gambling laws, both terrestrial and online gambling establishments have been banned. In fact, some international casino establishments have downsized their businesses based in Israel due to these legal changes. Some businesses, however, have decided to stay in the country thanks to its sophisticated technological base and qualified staff.


This situation remains challenging to the present day due to the fact that Israeli society is evolving and there is a constantly growing demand for adult entertainment and gambling. In this context, some groups advocate for the idea of allowing law-abiding Israeli citizens to gamble safely in a regulated gambling environment.


 Israel is home to the largest French community

With the changes brought by globalization and the consequences of Israel’s high-tech revolution, the Israeli population has experienced an influx of Jewish immigrants relocating to the holy land between 2000 and 2017. Israel now is home to the largest French immigrant community in the Middle East.


In the search for a safe and regulated gambling environment, Jewish players often use various gaming services offered by offshore gaming providers registered regulated by international gaming authorities. Thus, French speakers in Israel generally find more information about gambling published by French-speaking digital media.

By using external resources, they are able to find some great casino rewards and trending games.


Liberalisation of gambling laws can trigger positive results


Many people believe that the legalization of gambling in Israel would trigger positive changes and boost the local economy. As part of a plan to promote regional development, the Israeli Tourism Authority is focusing on Israel’s coastal zones, particularly Eilat and the Dead Sea. The intention is to attract more visitors from abroad and support local revenue-generating businesses. 


While the Dead Sea area has potential to attract additional health tourism, Eilat could possibly become a more well-rounded tourist destination should the plan to open a series of casinos, proposed in 2015, materialise in the near future.  


According to the statistics published by the Israel Ministry of Finance, if Eilat is turned into Israel’s Las Vegas, the length of tourist visits would increase by 10%. Furthermore, the Tourism Ministry estimated potential government profits of 15% tax on casino revenues and of up to 40% tax on gambling revenues. This would also create additional job opportunities and increase tax revenues generated from employees’ income tax.



Meanwhile, illegal gambling is thriving


Even though such forecasts seem highly optimistic, Israeli public opinion is split. Any discussions related to the pros and cons of casino entertainment in Israel instantly open a huge can of worms. Some religious groups believe that gambling causes a serious addiction and state that there is no place for gambling in Israel.


Illegal gambling, on the other hand, is much more detrimental and, as some Israeli nationals write on social media, it is much safer for gamblers to spend their money on legal casino games than those services that are offered by shady businesses.


Despite being illegal, Israeli underground gambling is thriving. Furthermore, many Jewish players continue using offshore casino entertainment providers remotely. Travelling to land-based casinos in Egypt and Turkey is also a common trend. This means that locally earned cash is spent on foreign business and Israeli players have no guarantee of safe gambling conditions.


Why are cryptocurrency transactions being monitored?


Israeli hi-tech revolution has created a new niche that requires additional B2C services in the fields of cybersecurity, gaming and cryptocurrency. However, this is indeed another hot potato on the regulating authorities’ plates. Since online gambling is illegal in Israel, all cryptocurrency transactions must be strictly monitored by local banks.


Israeli law enforcement agencies must be notified if any unlawful cyber transactions are made on various cryptocurrency platforms. This involves any digital wallet money transfers exceeding $1,400 made by individual customers. Repeated transactions under this set amount are also reported as being suspicious. Such measures have been introduced to safeguard Israeli nationals from losing large amount of money on offshore cryptocurrency platforms.


International guidelines could offer a viable solution


To find a reasonable compromise between the supporters of traditional religious and moral beliefs and those who urgently require a secure legislative framework that would make global gaming operations more transparent, Israel’s government authorities could follow some viable guidelines used in other countries around the world.


In Singapore, for example, while local players are required to pay a fee to enter a casino, foreign residents are allowed free entry. If Eilat does eventually become a local gaming hub, it will attract both local and foreign players as well as support local businesses.



New generations of Jewish entrepreneurs find new markets


Israeli hi-tech revolution has also opened up new markets and possibilities to new generations of Jewish entrepreneurs. In this context, the boom of international trade encourages Israeli investors to look for new business ventures outside the national borders. For instance, Guatemala is now preparing to sign a trade deal with Israel, which is forecasted to generate additional revenues for the country’s economy.


It has been reported that once the Guatemalan online gaming market is live, it will attract hundreds of Israeli investors due to its more liberal online gaming climate. It is also known that due to the unresolved issues around gambling laws in Israel, Israeli B2C offshore-based companies cater to Israeli players by offering Shekel payment methods and Hebrew speaking customer service.


Going forward: will we reinvent the wheel?


The Israeli Jewish population is known for being able to reinvent the wheel regardless of the circumstances. Is Israel going to be able to find a solution that will satisfy everyone involved? Only time will tell.