The finance minister of Israel, Moshe Kahlon stated that he will not permit horse racing and slot machines as long as he remains the country’s finance minister. Kahlon made the statement after reviewing a comprehensive report submitted by a special committee headed by Emi Palmor, director general of the Justice Ministry and Shay Babad, director general, Treasury. The committee conducted a review on the professional, structural and legal aspects of the legalized gambling industry in Israel and how it could reduce the negative impact of gambling.
The report stated that the growth of Israel’s gambling industry must be curtailed as it would increase problem gambling and also pushed for more regulations to be imposed on Toto, the Sports betting council and Mifal Hapayis, which are the two state run betting monopolies. The committee report recommended that horse racing and slot machines continue to be forbidden in Israel, allotting 20 million shekels each year to continue the fight against illegal gambling, look into reducing the operating costs at Mifal Hapayis and Toto, forbid all forms of “addictive games” and increase taxes on winnings.
The committee also put forth suggestions on how a further 1.5 billion shekels can be generated from the gambling industry during the next couple of years. The finance minister was against introducing slot machines as he felt that it generated funds for the government by taking money out of the poor.
In a statement, Kahlon said “This money is tainted, and we don’t want it. It’s no coincidence that on the 28th of the month, the day people receive stipends, Mifal Hapayis revenues rise dramatically. There won’t be any slot machines or horse races in Israel starting next year. As long as I am finance minister, there won’t be a casino in Israel.”
The recommendations from the committee are aimed at reducing the negative impact of the legalized gambling industry, moderating its growth and cutting down operational costs in order to use that extra money for the good of the public. Ayelet Shaked, the Justice Minister also reviewed the report and stated that betting was an addictive illusion of a better future. The minister stated that she will see if she can introduce the report into legislation.
Israel’s legalized gambling market has grown at a rate of 10 percent over the last five years and the committee proposes to limit its growth to around 2.7 percent each year. Both Mifal Hapayis and Toto have been asked to reduce their costs by 2 percent in 2017 by cutting down on advertising costs, reducing franchise sales commissions and introducing a new model on how franchises are to be paid.
The committee wants the enforcement industry to receive an additional 20 million shekels in order to crackdown on the illegal gambling industry in Israel which is estimated to be in the range of 10-15 billion shekels per year, which around 1 percent of the country’s GDP.