Israel is another country that allows online gambling, to an extent. What this implies is that not all forms of gambling are allowed or considered legal in Israel. Israel also serves as a gambling jurisdiction, but online casinos that are licensed in Israel seldom accept players from that country.
As mentioned above, gambling itself is legalized to an extent in Israel. However, whatever gambling is acceptable in Israel is highly regulated by the government in Israel. The situation is somewhat fluid when it comes to gambling in Israel. For instance, casino gambling is considered illegal, but there are a number of cruise ships in Israel’s port cities that offer casino style games. What is legal in Israel are sports betting and the lottery. The country, in fact, has in place a national lottery that enjoys tremendous popularity among the citizens.
When it comes to sports betting and the national lottery, there are two government organizations that regulate these gambling events. The sports betting industry is regulated by the Israeli Commission for Sports Gambling, while the national lottery is run by Mifal Hapayis. However, despite restraints existing in Israel for the gambling industry, it’s still a very big business; illegal gambling and betting rakes in a lot of money, a little over $3.5 billion each year.
When it comes to online gambling in Israel, local companies aren’t allowed to run online gambling operations. The government has also taken steps to ensure that local residents don’t indulge in gambling online; they have access only to the government-sponsored gambling events.
Online gambling operations based out of countries other than Israel have been offering games in English and Hebrew, targeting the Israeli population as well. Currently, there are more than 150 online gambling sites that offer online gambling games in these two languages, and accept payments in US Dollars (USD) and Israeli Shekels (ILS).
The ban on online gambling in Israel has been enforced as per the Israeli Penal Law 5737 in 1977. There’s a bit of confusion about the whole situation, because this law doesn’t actually talk about online gambling, and it hadn’t materialized at that point in time.
In 2005, things changed when the Attorney General of Israel issued orders directed not only at online gambling operators but also the credit card companies that processed transactions at these sites. The orders specifically required the gambling operations, including backgammon, to shut down shops in Israel. However in May of 2007, a specific change to the ruling excluded Play65, a backgammon website from this ban.
The Penal Law doesn’t adequately handle the tricky subject of jurisdiction. They overlook situations where casinos/ servers accessed by Israeli players that are located outside the territory of Israel. It’s unclear what is legal or not legal in this situation.