Israel allows online casino companies to run their operations in the country but forbids Israelis from gambling in these sites. So, in as much as gambling is legalised (to some extent) in Israel, whatever is acceptable is highly regulated by the government.
Although gambling is popular among Israeli enthusiasts, only two kinds of gambling have been legalised in the country. The government only allows citizens to take part in government-sponsored sports betting or national lottery. Israeli players who love to place a wager cannot do so on traditional casino games because these casinos are prohibited, but they can do so on dedicated cruise ships which are docked on the major port cities in Israel. The situation makes you sit back and wonder how these fractured rules came into effect, to begin with.
The situation of online gambling
As stated earlier, the country does not allow locals to participate in gambling online but grants them the freedom to access government-sponsored gambling platforms. The law also prohibits (with some exceptions) local companies from running online gambling operations.
Based on the restrictions and regulations, you would think that Israel is the last place that gambling investors and companies would like to go. But that’s not the case. Surprisingly, the gambling industry in Israel is a booming market. In fact, statistics show that illegal sports betting and gambling brings to the table slightly above $3.5 billion every year!
Sports betting and gambling companies based in other countries even offer games in Hebrew and English to cater to the Israeli market. To date, there are over 150 online gambling platforms that provide online gambling games in Hebrew and English, and accept payments in Israeli Shekels (ILS) and US Dollars (USD).
Israel’s gambling law
The prohibition of online gambling in the country has been enforced according to the Penal Law 5737 in 1977. Despite this, there has been a lot of confusion regarding the entire situation, since the Penal Law isn’t clear about online gambling. By the time the law was effected, online gaming had not materialised yet. But in 2005, the equilibrium shifted when Israeli’s Attorney General issued orders pointed towards the online gaming operators as well as the financial institutions that processed transactions at these gambling platforms.
But still, the law does not take care of the jurisdiction matter – it overlooks the situations where servers or casinos accessed by Israelis are situated outside Israel’s territory and is unclear about what’s legal and what’s not in this situation.
Sports betting in Israel
The only form of sports betting that’s allowed in the country is what’s regulated by the Israel Sports Betting Board (ISBB). Winner is the only sports betting operator in Israel, running under license from the ISBB. At the moment, sports betting products are available through the operator’s site, on mobile devices and in outlets across the country.
Winner is the leading legal operation in Israel and provides regular sports wagers on a range of sporting activities. The operator also runs an online sportsbook that allows Israelis to wage real money on the most popular sports. However, players often have limited selections, and the odds are not always the best. Despite that, Winner is still the preferred choice because of the simple deposit methods and its Hebrew Language support.
The ISBB was formed in 1968 to offer wagering opportunities whose proceeds would be devoted to Israeli sports activities. Specifically, the board is licensed to plan “skill games” as opposed to “chance games.” Over time, some 1350 retail betting stores have been opened. The most significant share of wagering goes to Winner bets on basketball games and soccer matches. Toto, a pool-style betting form is also provided.
Both Toto and Winner are now available online. Along with the National Lottery, they make up the only online gambling sites legalised in Israel. The licensing body, Knesset, refuses to offer online gambling licenses to any other operators. In fact, there have been attempts to block citizens from gaining access to foreign online betting websites by using filtering methods to mark unwanted ISPs.
But even so, players who want to get around these filters have ways of doing so, and the websites based outside of Israeli’s jurisdiction continue to provide betting solutions to Israeli Citizens. Unibet,NetBet, Paddy Power, Ladbrokes, Expekt and Bet365 are just a few of the 400+ internet sportsbooks that allow Israeli clients.