Is Gambling Legal in Israel?
Due to religious beliefs and cultural values, you might expect gambling to be illegal in Israel; and you are right! This country has a very restrictive policy about gambling, and most forms are illegal. Still, some forms of gambling are controlled by the state and okay to participate in. Keep reading to learn more about the legal and illegal types of gambling in Israel.
Illegal Types of Gambling in Israel
Since the government of Israel has set heavy punishments for participating in illegal gambling, it’s important to know these games and avoid them to remain on the good side of the law. In Israel, all games that rely on chance instead of depending only on the player’s skills are prohibited. The prohibited games include all casino games, including Roulette, Blackjack, Slots, Poker, and Bingo. You should know those who participate in unlawful gambling might also be convicted of money laundering in addition to their gambling offense.
Legal Types of Gambling in Israel
In this country, betting is considered legal, but only if it has been offered by the state. This means that The Israel Sports Betting Board, or the ISBB, should regulate all forms of betting. You can also participate in lotteries only if they are regulated by the Ministry of Finance. You should know that the national lottery has a variety of lotteries, including many weekly draws, a weekly subscription lottery, scratch cards, and numerous other raffles and lotteries. There are also other less conventional forms of winning money by chance available in Israel. For example, The Ministry of Finance has allowed promotional draws and sweepstakes for companies by issuing a blanket permit with certain conditions. Businesses can only conduct these promotional draws twice a year, and only if they are 120 days apart. They should also submit the draw to the Ministry of Finance.
Can You Make Sports Bets in Israel?
Sports betting is legal in Israel, but only under the regulation of the ISBB. The Israel Sports Betting Board allows you to bet on football and basketball games. If you’re interested in fantasy betting, you should know that this type of gambling is not regulated in Israel, which means the ISBB doesn’t offer it. Therefore, there’s no platform for legal fantasy betting. Also, remember that the Ministry of Finance banned horse race betting in 2018.
Is Online Gambling Legal in Israel?
Not only is online gambling illegal in Israel, but most online gambling platforms have been blocked by internet service providers at the government’s request. The only type of online gambling you can legally take part in is online sports betting offered by the ISBB. If you are considering using online gambling sites outside of Israel, you should know that Israeli courts consider that a violation of the gambling laws. This means that if someone makes a transaction related to gambling in Israel, they’re breaking the law.
How Old Do You Have to Be to Gamble in Israel?
Taking part in any prohibited games is illegal at any age, but in order to participate in legal gambling activities offered by the state, you have to be at least 18 years old. In fact, any person who sells or offers even permitted lottery tickets to minors might face up to six months of imprisonment.
What is the Punishment for Gambling in Israel?
Any person participating in illegal gambling will be liable and might face penalties. The one who organizes or conducts one of the prohibited gambling games will be sentenced to three years of imprisonment or a fine of 452,000 ILS. Even playing these games inside Israel is a crime, with the punishment of one year in prison or a fine of 29,200 ILS.
If a person sells or distributes lottery or betting tickets or even publishes an announcement about this subject, they’ll face a year of imprisonment or a fine of 150,600 ILS. Those interested in opening a casino should know that the person who manages a premise on which illegal gambling happens, they’ll be liable to three years in prison or a fine of 452,000 ILS. Even the person who has leased the property might get a verdict of six months in prison or a 150,600 ILS fine.
Are There Casinos in Israel?
Unfortunately, all land-based gambling outside of the ones provided by the government is illegal, which means there are no casinos in Israel.
Are Gambling Winnings Subject to Tax?
Commercial gambling is out of the question in Israel, but what if you participate in legal forms of gambling conducted by the state and win? In that case, your lottery or ISBB betting winnings might be subject to taxation. Only those with prizes of up to 32,760 ILS are qualified for tax exemption, and the rest must pay tax. You’ll find different tax rates for prizes between 32,760 ILS and 65,520 ILS, but those who won prizes over 65,520 ILS will have a set tax of 35%.
Israel’s Policy on Poker
Israel’s government firmly stands against all gambling games, but when it comes to professional poker, they’ve been known to show some flexibility. In one particular case, a tax appeal was filed by a poker player who had won a poker tournament outside of Israel. The court deemed this player a professional player who had earned his victory based on skill rather than chance, so his winnings were subject to income tax rather than gambling winning tax (which meant lower taxation for him). The court even went beyond subjecting poker tournament winnings to income tax and allowed the player to deduct some expenses, such as accommodation, flight, and registration costs.
On December 2022, a bill was re-introduced to the parliament, striving to regulate poker tournaments with real money by excluding certain types of poker from the long list of prohibited games. This bill is still pending, but hopefully, good things are in store for Israeli poker players.
When asking, “Is gambling legal in Tel Aviv,” it’s hard to give a straight answer because many types of gambling are illegal, but there are still some forms of gambling you can take part in. The government of Israel has banned all games of chance, but you can participate in state-regulated lotteries and sports betting, which might give you more varied options than you think. So when gambling in this country, you should make sure to use legal sources, or else you’ll face heavy punishments.
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