The Israeli tourism ministry is considering the establishment of casinos in the Dead Sea and Eilat as part of a plan to fund regional development
Since its independence, Israel has outlawed gambling on religious and moral grounds. But lately, the Israeli tourism ministry is leaning towards lifting this ban on gambling. Religious groups in Israel have always argued that legalizing gambling and opening casinos would lower moral standards and increase in addiction and crime rate. But it seems like the public opinion regarding this matter isn’t as homogenous as in the early nation’s days. A recent survey conducted by the government shows that almost three quarters of Israelis support the idea of building casinos on Israeli territory.
There are two main reasons why the gambling ban removal seems closer than ever. The first one is the recovery and rapid growth of tourism to Israel. Over two million tourists visited Israel last year, and the figure is expected to grow every year over the next decade The idea behind the future casinos is to develop the existing tourism infrastructure and tourist attractions existing in Israel which have never reached their full potential.
The Dead Sea, for example is such an attraction that can easily become a modern, leading center drawing tourists, particularly health tourism, with the proper investment. Advocates of casinos in Israel say that casinos would bring money to this relatively poor area and create more jobs. Not only that, more business would be created around the casinos creating even more work and profit.
But the second and most important reason for the sudden interest in creating Israeli casinos are Israeli gamblers. Statistics show that more and more Israelis travel to Egypt and Turkey to spend their money in casinos there. The use of online casinos also increased the amount of money spent by Israelis on gaming. Israeli officials estimate that hundreds of millions of dollars are gambled away outside of Israel. A good percent of gambling tax and a one-time license fee that the Israeli government would like to put its hands on.