Netanyahu said to push for casino in Eilat
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Netanyahu said to push for casino in Eilat

If approved, move would fulfill campaign promise to test socioeconomic effects of legalizing gambling

Illustrative image of slot machines in an US casino in Atlantic City in 2006. (CC By-SA Wikimedia commons)
Illustrative image of slot machines in an US casino in Atlantic City in 2006. (CC By-SA Wikimedia commons)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has opened discussions on launching a casino in the southern resort city of Eilat.

Netanyahu met with Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz and Tourism Minister Yariv Levin to weigh the matter, Channel 10 reported Thursday.

During the 1990s, casino tycoon and Netanyahu backer Sheldon Adelson attempted to open a casino in Israel to no avail, as the initiative was thwarted by various tourism ministers over the years.

The move would fulfill a campaign promise by Netanyahu to check the possible socioeconomic effects of legalizing a casino in Israel, and reported interest in “connecting Eilat to the Israeli economy” by creating more jobs in the town.

Should the die be cast and the casino idea put into action, it could be placed on the site of the current Eilat airport, which is slated to be relocated.

Although casino gambling in Israel is illegal, some take cruises from Eilat on casino boats outside Israeli territorial waters to gamble. Operators of the casino boats have been accused of organizing illegal gambling, money laundering and tax offenses.

In 1998, a casino was opened in the Palestinian city of Jericho providing a loophole for Israeli gamblers as it was in Palestinian Authority-controlled territory. The casino closed in 2004, at the height of the Second Intifada.

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