JERUSALEM (Feb. 10)
Israel may have moved a step closer toward having its first gambling casino after Finance Minister Avraham Shohat told the Knesset last week that he favors changing the law to allow such gaming halls.
Shohat told Parliament that casinos would boost Israel’s tourism, though he also noted sardonically: “I know a casino is not a beit midrash,” or religious study hall.
Members of Israel’s Orthodox religious parties spoke out against the idea, and it was decided that the issue should be studied in a Knesset committee.
Shohat said the southern seaside resort of Eilat would be unable to compete against neighboring Jordanian and Egyptian Red Sea resorts unless it offered gambling.
Shohat also mentioned that thousands of Israelis travel to Greece, Turkey, Egypt and even the United States specifically to enjoy gambling.
Under present Israeli law, organized gambling is illegal, except for certain lotto competitions and soccer pools that must be supervised.
Meanwhile, a group of seven leading hoteliers in Tiberias have written to New York millionaire Donald Trump, urging him to invest in a casino-and-hotel complex in their town.
Trump said in a weekend interview with the Israeli daily Yediot Achronot that he is considering investing in a casino in Israel.