Israel is set to make gambling machines and horse racing betting illegal in a clampdown on the gaming industry.

Justice Ministry Director General Emi Palmor and Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon announced the measures at a joint press conference following the release of a report delivered by the Commission on Gambling Regulations, a joint-tank led by the heads of the two ministries.

The ministries confirmed they would use all of the report’s recommendations, such a limit of the size of the legal gambling sector, a prohibition on operating games with an addictive nature, a tax raise on money earned via gambling and a number of other limitations.

Currently, the only authorities licensed to deliver gambling services are Mifal HaPayis that operates the Israeli national lottery and gambling machines, and the Sports Betting Council that manages betting on a variety of sports events, including horse racing.

The announcement is set to end any hopes of the country to allow casinos, despite the government publishing a study on the potential benefits earlier this year which showed that the revenue could rise to $511m per annum after several years of operation, however, it was also estimated that the country would need up to $2.2m in additional annual funding to deal with an estimated 30,000 new problem gamers.

Kahlon said: “Israel’s weakest and poorest are being sold illusions and false hopes every day. As of next year, there will not be a single gambling machine or any horse racing in Israel.

“It is no coincidence that these gambling machines are found mostly in poor neighbourhoods. It is also not a coincidence that we see a sharp rise in lottery revenue the day after welfare checks are sent out every month.

“Unregulated gambling exclusively and deliberately targets and hurts the country’s weakest communities so as long as I am finance minister, there will be no casinos in Israel.”

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