Israeli Tourism Minister Focuses On Preparing Eilat Casino Proposal
Israeli Tourism Minister Yariv Levin is said to be in the process of meeting government officials to review the options for the development of a casino complex in the city of Eilat.
The minister hopes to use the inputs towards the creation of a viable implementation plan which would be presented to the government later this year.
The meeting will be with key members of the committee in charge of handling casino development in the country, namely Eilat Mayor Meir Yitzhak Halevi, directors of the Prime Minister’s Office and the Finance Ministry, apart from key officials from other government ministries.
In a statement Levin said,
This is an essential process. Eilat can’t compete in the world of tourism without at least new hotels. The casino isn’t the goal — it’s the means.
According to Levin Eilat has seen no new hotel development in past decade. The committee is expected to develop a memorandum to set up a hotel-casino in Eilat within the space of three months according to local media reports. Casinos are not legal in Israel and sports-betting is allowed only through MifalHaPayis, the national lottery organization.
The memorandum which is under preparation will identify the location for the casino, the eligibility conditions required for the license and the provisions governing the entry of Israelis into the casino complex. The document is also intended to spell out the limitations to be put on gamblers such as the amount of bets, the amount of time spent inside at one sitting and the total number of visits.
A Tourism ministry report released earlier had stated that there was economic viability for setting up two to four casinos in Eilat, each having a conference center and a luxury hotel, which will result in the addition of almost 4000 hotel rooms to the city. Tourism to the city is expected to be boosted by 15 percent as a result of the proposed casinos and 11,000 jobs are expected to be created.
The current developments comes even as Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon decided to accept recommendations to move hundreds of slot machines operated by MifalHaPayis from gaming centers spread across the country to a controlled central location. Kahlon stated that the slots amount to gambling and needed to be re-located as they were located in weak economic areas.
The casino proposal has been facing vehement opposition from parties both inside and outside the government. Although Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu supports the idea, several coalition partners oppose the plan as do all opposition parties. Levin is optimistic that this situation would change once the stringent control and oversight measures as well as the benefits are demonstrated.
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