Legislative Framework of Gambling Regulation in Israel

Formerly known as the State of Israel, Israel is a country in the Middle East that is known mostly for its ancient synagogues, new testament sites, and diverse scenery.

 (photo credit: INGIMAGE)
(photo credit: INGIMAGE)
Formerly known as the State of Israel, Israel is a country in the Middle East that is known mostly for its ancient synagogues, new testament sites, and diverse scenery. 

Interestingly enough, what Israelis are known for are their high living standard and well-developed high-tech sector. The country is also home to several well-established providers of gambling-related activities.

With this in mind, the gambling-related legislation in the country remains rather conservative as the forms of gambling in which Israelis are permitted to engage are thin on the ground. 

If you are looking to better understand the legislative framework of gambling regulation in Israel, this article will be the way to go. In addition to this, this research provided by supercasinosites.com can also help you gain an understanding of the situation in Israel. 

What Gambling-related Laws are in Place in Israel

In spite of the fact that gambling activities are tremendously popular among citizens of Israel, their access to such forms of entertainment is rather limited. In fact, an almost blanket ban on gambling activities is imposed when the Israeli Penal Law 5737 was introduced back in 1977. Under its provisions, it is strictly against the law to bet on games of chance or organize lotteries. The same applies to operating a venue where any of the above-mentioned activities take place. 

Under this law, a game of chance is a game in which players are given the opportunity to win money, without using their skills or some kind of understanding, but instead, rely solely on luck, meaning that the prohibition extends to blackjack and roulette games. 

In spite of the fact that the legislation of the country does not provide an explicit description of poker, Israelis are still not permitted to engage in such games. The legality of betting on poker has led to heated debate, but ultimately, several courts said that certain poker variations fall within the scope of the Penal Law. Yet, the stance of most Supreme Court members was that tournament poker should not be regarded as a game of chance. 

The sanctions that are envisaged in the Penal Law for people who are found to conduct or organize betting on lotteries or on any of the prohibited games include a fine or a three-year prison term. 

In the event that someone is found to take part in any of the prohibited games, the punishment will be either a fine or up to a one-year prison term. 

Still, it is important to note that certain forms of betting remain out of the scope of the Penal Law, provided that a few conditions are met. Israelis will not be prevented from wagering on lotteries, games, or betting, on condition that such activities are handled with purely entertainment purposes and are not carried out in public, but a private environment. The prohibition shall cease to apply also if the gambling activities are not carried out in a place where betting, lotteries, or illicit games take place. 

In spite of the general ban that was introduced on almost all forms of gambling, there were certain exceptions to this rule. Mifal Hapayis, which is the national lottery of Israel was established in August 1951, and it was permitted to offer scratchcards, raffles, and various lotteries. 

Mifal Hapayis falls under the oversight of the Ministry of Finance, and until 2017, it was responsible also for a couple of physical video lottery terminals. What is essential to note is that betting on lotteries in Israel can be done exclusively offline. 

Another turning point in the development of the gambling industry in Israel was the introduction of the Israel Sports Betting Board back in 1967. Initially, gambling enthusiasts were allowed to bet exclusively on soccer and basketball, but the responsibilities of the board were extended, thus making it possible for Israelis to wager on foreign sports the likes of tennis, baseball, and handball, among others. 

What is important to note is that the board is given the exclusive right to organize and oversee sports betting activities, no matter if they are handled over the Internet or offline. 

Is Online Gambling Legal in Israel

What can be said for sure about the legislative framework of gambling regulation in Israel is that it is not as evolving and dynamic as in other parts of the globe. 

That is the reason why much controversy has appeared when online gambling is concerned. As it might have already hit you, the gambling-related legislation in the country has not been updated to ensure that it is compatible with the current state of things, and it does not contain provisions that have to do with online gambling in particular. The reason why the Israel gambling market needs better regulation is that in this way, illegal gambling will be undermined and players will not have to worry that they are breaking the law while they are gambling. Not to mention the fact that the gambling industry can turn out to be a major growth-driver for Israel. 

Since many people considered that the legislation of the country is not unambiguous when the virtual form of gambling is concerned, various government agencies were required to express their official opinions in order to ensure that any potential confusion will be cleared up. 

According to the stance of the Ministry of Justice, the State Comptroller, and the Israel Police, the provisions that are to be found in the Penal Law apply to all forms of gambling. 

Still, it turns out that the efforts of the government to prevent Israelis from betting at overseas websites do not achieve much success as their filtering and Internet blocking methods seem to fall flat. 

Regulatory Authorities

As far as the regulatory bodies that oversee gambling in Israel are concerned, it should be noted that under the provisions of the Penal Law, the Finance Minister is the one to provide permits for lottery games or betting. 

Mifal Hapayis, on the other hand, has the right to provide lottery services or non-betting gambling. Finally, when it comes to sports betting, the only provider of such services is ISBB.