Israel PM considers allowing casinos in Eilat

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has announced the formation of a steering committee to explore the possibility of allowing casinos in Eilat, a resort city which, according to the PM, is in need of an economic boost, local media reports.

Local sources at the meeting said the Eilat tourism industry has shrunk by 40 percent over the last five years. “This is going to be Eilat’s lifesaver,” the prime minister said during a top-level meeting, according to the Ynet.

Currently, casino gambling in Israel is illegal and local Israelis have been known to take cruises from Eilat on casino boats to international waters to gamble. Illegal gambling is a NIS 11-15 billion (US$281-385 million) industry, according to local sources.

The Prime Minister reportedly is leaning towards a foreigner-only set up, but a counter proposal from the Tourism Ministry has called for casinos to be open to locals as well.

The steering committee announced by Netanyahu will include Levin, prime minister’s office director Eli Groner, the director of the Transportation Ministry, and representatives from the Finance, Justice, Public Security and Interior ministries, as well as the mayor of Eilat.