Betting industry is under a lot of criticism and fire in Israel and things do not appear good here for this industry. In a recent move on Wednesday Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon and Justice Ministry General Director Emi Palmor held a join press conference to discuss a new report by the Commission on Gambling Regulations in Israel. This commission was made up of representatives from both the ministries and were asked to identify (a) increase efficiency in the legal gambling industry and (b) reduce the potential harms of gambling on the country’s most vulnerable citizens.
As per the findings and discussion in the report it recommends banning the slots and video poker machines run by national lottery monopoly Mifal HaPayis. At present there are around 500 such gaming machines which are located in 150 lottery shops. In addition to this the report also recommends banning the race betting organised by another monopoly, the Israel Sports Betting Board’s Toto brand. In spite of no dedicated year round track in Israel even then several venues host occasional meetings throughout the year.
Looking into this reports recommendation both Kahlon and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked have vowed that they will do whatever it takes to make sure that the report’s recommendations are approved by Israel’s parliament, the Knesset. Kahlon in context to his previous remarks and views on gambling said “as of next year, there will not be a single gambling machine or any horse racing in Israel.”
Kahlon has termed these slot machines as “one of the worst evils” as they “take money from the weak and put it in the country’s jackpot.” As per Kahlon this entire gambling proceeds is dirty money and the state doesn’t wants it. In addition to all this he further wants to hike taxes on lottery winnings. At present lottery winning under NIS50K (US$13k) aren’t subject to any taxes however Kahlon wants this to lower this threshold to just NIS 5k. With this new tax system Kahlon estimates that NIS 200m ($52m) will be added to state treasury.
Kahlon reiterated his opposition to the Tourism Ministry’s desire to open Israel’s first casinos in the tourist hub of Eilat but Kahlon said “as long as I am finance minister, there will be no casinos in Israel.” He even wants the gambling industry growth to be capped at 3% while Mifal HaPayis had forecast 10% market growth this year.