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Betting in Israel

Published on: 01/02/2016

In 1948, Israel officially became an independent state. The country is located in the Mediterranean basin and shares its borders with Egypt, Lebanon, Syria and Jordan. Tel Aviv is the centre of the nation’s finances and Jerusalem is the capital. The parliamentary republic has a population of approximately 8 million citizens. The Shekel is the official currency; Arabic and Hebrew are the national languages.

Mifal Hapayis is a state-sanctioned lottery company which was founded in 1951. It conducts business on a non-profit basis and is under the ownership of the local authorities. The Ministry of Finance provides Mifal Hapayis with a licence to operate Israel’s National Lottery.

In its first five decades of business, Mifal Hapayis generated over 22 billion Shekels (approximately £3.5 billion). A large amount of this money came from a “subscription program,” which began in the early 1980s and provided the National Lottery with a substantial income by targeting high-income households. The program attracted many thousands subscriptions from Israeli citizens.

Mifal Hapayis now provides daily and weekly games of chance as well as Hish Gad, an instant-win scratch card. The company has ten major distributors covering the country with several thousand venues, including shops and street kiosks.

The National Lottery has proven to work very well throughout the country, however the Knesset Interior Committee are reluctant to make other types of gambling legal in Israel, and state that casino establishments will not be accepted or made legal any time soon. However, casino cruise boats are authorised to trade and have been granted licences to do so. Four high-quality floating casinos are located at the Port of Eilat, and since 1971, the casino cruise ship known as the Mano Cruises Royal Iris, which is moored at Haifa, has been offering gambling services.

In all of Israel there is only one place where horse race betting is fully legal, and that is within the northern central area, near to Haifa. Located in Gilboa, the North Gilboa Horse Race Track offers on-site Pari-mutuel betting on thoroughbred events.

The ISBB, otherwise known as Israel Sports Betting Board was founded in 1968. It offers gambling activities which in turn create income to help the country’s sporting industry. In particular, the ISBB primary objective is to arrange “games of skill” rather than games of chance. There are over one thousand betting shops, most of which specialize in fixed-odds “winner” bets on basketball and football games. Also pool-style wagering is available in the form of a product called Toto.

Online gambling is very limited in Israel. The Knesset have strictly prohibited companies from obtaining licences and have even taken steps to try to make gambling via foreign internet betting sites impossible. The Israelite citizens have three legally accepted options when it comes to wagering online, the Israel National Lottery, Toto and Winner.

Despite this, the locals still manage to access online sportsbooks from abroad. Many gambling companies welcome play from Israeli addresses including:

In fact, there are over 400 sportsbooks offering their online products to Israeli punters, including some that provide information using the Hebrew language such as: