The State of the Online Casino Industry in Israel for 2020

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Many virtual players might be wondering what is the current state of online gambling in Israel and if there are any plans for a change in 2020.

If you are also interested in the online casino industry in the country, you can continue reading this article. It will provide information on the current gambling laws, the overall casino industry in Israel, and how the Israeli government regulates the market

Is Online Gambling Legal in Israel?

A very good research into the situation in the country shows that gambling is illegal in Israel according to the 1977 Israeli Penal Law 5737. This is why you cannot find any legitimate casino in the country. Meanwhile, engaging in gambling activities is also considered illegal. The exception to the law includes sports betting and lotteries.

Since online gambling was not a thing in 1977, for a long time this sector remained a gray area that was not specified in the law. In 2005, the Israeli Attorney General had to clear the misunderstanding and stated that online gambling is also governed by the Penal Law 5737 of 1977. This change forced all virtual casino operators based in Israel to shut down. Meanwhile, card issuing companies that allowed transactions to and from interactive casinos were fined. This effectively prevented online gambling in Israel and to this day, it is considered illegal to participate in virtual gambling if you are located in the country.

Do People in Israel Play at Online Casinos?

Even though online gambling is not allowed in Israel, there are still some offshore casinos that accept Israeli players. This being said, it is quite difficult to access such websites as they are blocked by Israeli ISPs. In addition to that, payments are also difficult to be processed as Israeli players might have a limited number of available banking options.

Despite the difficulties, some Israeli players resort to using VPNs (virtual private networks) to access foreign online casinos. As for the payments, some players utilize foreign bank accounts or other banking alternatives. 

Despite the gambling laws in Israel, there are also unauthorized land-based casinos in the country. This is one of the several reasons why the Penal Law is often criticized and many believe that legalizing online and offline gambling will ensure that players will be playing only at safe and properly regulated virtual and land-based casinos.

Should There be Any Changes Introduced in the Law?

The fact that there are quite a few offshore virtual casinos that allow players from Israel to place real money bets online shows that the gambling industry in the country could be quite big. There are some estimates that show the illegal gambling scene in Israel roughly amounts to $3.5 billion every year. This shows that legalizing the industry could bring the country significant revenue and players will no longer have to resort to illegal means just to play online.

Despite the potential benefits the legalization of gambling in Israel could have, most forms of gambling still remains illegal in the country.

Are There Any Steps Taken Towards a Change in the Law?

At the moment, offline and online casinos are still considered illegal in Israel. This being said, in 2019, some alterations in the law changed the gambling scene in Israel, or at least gave hope for more lax regulations for poker players.

Last year, in January, the Israeli Supreme Court declared that poker was a game of skill. According to the Penal Law, only games that depend mostly on luck and less on skills are banned in the country.

Due to the new amendment to the law, poker is not considered a form of gambling and as of 2019, residents of Israel are allowed to play poker online and offline. After the changes in the laws and regulations in the country, Sharren Haskel, who is a politician in Israel, proposed a bill for the decriminalization of poker tournaments. As of now, however, the bill still has not been passed, which means that Israeli players will still have to wait to enjoy poker legally.

In 2020, most forms of gambling are still not legal in Israel and you can enjoy casino games neither offline nor online. The only exceptions are sports betting and lotteries. Back in 2015, there were speculations that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was planning to open a brick-and-mortar casino in Eilat. This is also the territory where poker tournaments are played on cruise ships. Since technically they are not located in Israel, these ships are one of the few ways for Israeli players to legally enjoy poker.

Despite the different attempts for legalizing casino games in Israel, currently, it is not allowed to offer or participate in gambling activities on the territory of the country. This remains a complex issue as there are mixed opinions about whether gambling should be decriminalized in Israel.