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NEWS 17 February 2016

Israel to discuss casinos

By Edward Obeng
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is to address the idea of opening a casino in the southern resort town of Eilat.

The transportation and tourism ministers are among those invited to take part in talks, according to local media.

The Prime Minister’s interest in building a single casino has sparked opposition from ultra-Orthodox political parties, while tourism minister Yariv Levin has made it clear that he would like to see a larger complex built featuring multiple casinos.

Levin proclaimed that the accompanying entities such as hotels, retail areas, dining and entertainment facilities would help boost the status of Eilat as an international tourist destination rather than a local one.

Netanyahu and Levin are split on who should be able to gamble, with the Prime Minister only wishing to permit foreigners.

The tourism ministry on the other hand proposes that restrictions be put in place for Israeli citizens and policies be introduced to protect gamblers.

Religious political party Shas argue that gambling would harm the lower groups in society by benefiting “tycoons and the wealthy”.

MK Moshe Gafni, member of the United Torah Judaism party, added that he would not support Netanyahu’s idea because gambling "creates crime and negative phenomena”.

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