Israel has had a very politically complicated history, but this has never impacted the nation’s love affair with sports. As is the case with many countries, sport is a vital part of their tradition - and many people love the thrill of getting involved in local and international events.
But what about sports betting? Well, this is possible on a number of different platforms. In the UK, Boylesports.com is the leading online and sports betting site and mobile app. Although, in Israel - the rules around this aren’t particularly clear. Let’s take a look at the most popular sports in Israel, along with the gambling laws - and things to consider when sports betting in Israel.
Popular Sports to Bet on in Israel
There are several popular sports amongst Israeli citizens - here are the main ones:
Football / Soccer
First, we will look at what most people in the world call football, but North Americans call soccer. Locals call the game Kaduregel - and this is unarguably one of the most popular sports in the country. The game is controlled by the IFA - Israel Football Association. Israel originally joined the Asian Football Association back in 1955. However, in 1974 they were removed because of political issues. Twenty years later, in 1994, they were fully admitted by FIFA and have, ever since, played under Europe.
Some of the biggest clubs in the country include Hadera and Hapoel Tel Aviv - and Israel has produced some top talent including former Chelsea and Arsenal player Yossi Benayoun.
Israel joined the International Cricket Association way back in 1968, although they haven’t performed particularly well in subsequent tournaments, with their highest-ever position being 8th in Denmark in 1996. Despite this, there are still many enthusiastic cricket fans who enjoy watching and betting on local teams based around Tel Aviv and Sakhin.
UFC, one of the biggest MMA brands, is a Mixed Martial Arts sport which combines boxing, judo, wrestling and jiu-jitsu. It used to be that the Israeli government didn’t approve of the sport, but in recent years it has become hugely popular with younger sports fans.
One of the biggest names to come from Israel is Alice Schlesinger, who has won numerous belts.
Martial Arts are also very popular in Israel, with numerous schools regularly training their students in Martial Arts. There are a number of Capoeira teams that are dotted around the towns and cities. In addition, most security companies - as well as the police, army and Mossad are taught Krav Maga.
Another sport that is growing in popularity recently in Israel is hockey, with many signing up for academies such as Metulla’s Hockey Academy of Israel. This is gaining traction with the country’s younger generation, being refreshing and entertaining. What’s more, the Israeli Hockey Federation is working alongside experts in Finland and Canada to improve the sport in the country, with promising talent being sent to these countries for training and tournaments.
Online Sports Betting Laws in Israel
Because the popularity of these sports within the country is growing, more bookmakers are starting to offer their services to Israeli citizens. However, there were frameworks put into place by the government in 1977, determining how this can be done. They can come up with laws and regulations defining how sports betting can be done.
Although lotteries and state-run events were allowed, most games of chance were strictly prohibited. However, these rules have been challenged by several bookmakers because there is no clear definition of how online betting should be done. Current penal laws within the country state don’t actually mention specific games - just that games of chance are illegal.
In 2017, there was introduced Powers to Prevent the Commission of Offences using an Internet Website Act, which was designed to ban access to overseas bookmakers. The law would allow courts to block foreign websites from offering their services to Israeli citizens. In addition, financial institutions are mandated to block funds to sportsbooks.
However, Israeli punters can still place their bets - they just simply need to find a good and safe offshore bookmaker that isn’t blocked by the government and that accepts New Shekels.
This article was written in cooperation with Omnia Agency