Netanyahu to talk Eilat casino with key ministers
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Netanyahu to talk Eilat casino with key ministers

New proposal would allow only non-Israeli citizens to gamble at southern resort city facility

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 was to hold a meeting Wednesday with Tourism Minister Yariv Levin and Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz to advance a proposed casino in Eilat.

Netanyahu discussed the proposal with Katz and Levin in September, but the new proposal would be to allow only non-Israeli citizens to gamble at the facility, Channel 2 reported.

It’s unclear how the policy would be enforced, as many Israelis hold foreign passports.

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 the 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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