Israeli casino’s international appeal outlined by government

A plan to build a casino complex in the Israeli resort of Eilat could attract up to 240,000 tourists per year, according to a government study.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, a long-standing proponent of the introduction of casinos in the country, last week commissioned a Tourism Ministry steering committee that will draw up a plan and prepare a bill for the establishment of a casino resort for foreign tourists in the Red Sea port town.

According to analysis prepared for the Finance Ministry last December, and published this week by the Haaretz newspaper, the casinos are projected to generate annual revenue of INS1.3bn (€305m/$336m), based on an annual average of 2.1 million guests spending $160 per person. This revenue could then rise to $511m per annum after several years of operation, based on a survey of 13 countries in which casinos are legal.

The study estimated that the country would need up to $2.2m in additional annual funding to deal with an estimated 30,000 new problem gamblers, although the plans revealed last week would prevent Israelis from gambling in the casinos.

However, many feel that opposition to the casino industry from both politicians and the general public means there is little chance of casinos ever opening in Israel.

Netanyahu’s plans would require the support of coalition colleagues such as the Orthodox HaBayit HaYehudi, but observers feel that is unlikely.

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