Why has Israel banned online gaming? Well, from the politician’s view, it is a moral choice between collecting more taxes and protecting your citizens from addictive activities. But isn’t it a valid question of whether adults should be able to decide for themselves? The ban is even more bizarre when you consider these interesting facts about Jewish gambling laws.
1) Not all gambling is prohibited. Horse racing, national lottery as well as sports betting on football and basketball, both hugely popular sports in Israel are legal to play for money. Naturally, organizing these games does require a government-issued license. Current gambling restrictions came into effect in 1977.
2) The ban is not religious. Judaism does not restrict its followers from gambling, but teachings of the Holy Book recognize the activity and its participants as weak, sometimes even as thieves.
3) However, in the modern days rabbis take a strong stand against gambling of any kind due to the addictive nature of these games.
4) Israeli companies have been very popular in online gaming world. Most notably, Vikings: War of Clans creator Plarium that is now worth millions. While not specifically gambling games, these types of games have a lot of elements of luck-based casino games.
5) Throughout the years Israeli government has taken harsh actions against anyone, local or offshore, running any type of gambling in the country resulting in many such domains being banned by the police in 2010.
6) Despite this, Israel is home to many companies organizing online gaming, most notably 888 Holdings as well as William Hill.
7) Other companies running from offshore (examples of which you can find at http://top-casino-bonus.co.uk) gain access to Israeli players due to 2012 court decision, stating that police cannot force ISPs to block domains, as they did in 2010.
8) The largest online poker site worth over $5b, PokerStars, was founded by Isai Scheinberg, Israeli-Canadian programmer. The site was launched in 2001 as a play-money poker site and quickly grew since. In 2016 the company was acquired by Amaya Group for $4.9b.
Every community should draw a line between allowing its people to make free-of-guilt choices about their leisure and protecting them from themselves. It is clear that we still have a long debate left on this topic as the two sides currently make up the two main opposing political powers, democrats and conservatives. But it is a debate certainly worth having.