Recent reports have suggested that Israel could soon allow Poker tournaments to take place within its borders. There are certain laws that are trying to be set in motion by individuals who have introduced a new bill for the Israeli government to assess. Many of the world’s leading online poker sites are taking notice – an expected move, as these changing laws could open up a major market within the gambling industry.
One of the key people involved in these laws is Sharren Haskel from the Israeli Likud Party, who is known to want to help redefine the game of poker and take it away from the gambling category. In his latest move to do so, Haskel needs to present his case to Israel’s unicameral parliament at the Knesset.
There are several countries around the world besides Israel where the game of poker is illegal, including Poland, Qatar, Lebanon, Cambodia and Japan, but no one quite saw Israel as the leading force to change this. The current laws within Israel state that anyone who plays the game will see themselves handed a year-long prison sentence. However, this could soon change; the decision made at the Knesset has the chance to not only make poker legal but set into motion a chain reaction for the aforementioned countries to do so too.
At the forefront of the argument to make poker legal within Israel is the fact many people have hugely underestimated how much skill is involved in winning. The current perception is that the game revolves around an abundance of sheer luck rather than the clever use of game-relevant tactics. Since many people attend officially organised tournaments around the world, this has given a greater indication that this game involves so much more than just luck.
The bill which is currently under consideration at the Knesset would enable a new set of regulations for the Israeli Poker Players Association. This means tournaments can be held within Israel by the governing board, so long as oversight has been provided by the countries’ finance ministry.
Even though the country has strict restrictions currently in place, there are actually quite a large number of famous Israeli Poker players. One of the most recognizable figures is Timur Margolin, who has earned in excess of $1.7 million in prize money during a wide selection of live-televised events across the world.
In terms of other more notable Israeli Poker players, there is Rafi Amit and Amie Lehavot, who have both managed to oversee a long and prosperous career playing the card game, since both have managed to pass the million-pound mark when it comes to profit made. Levahot is the pinnacle since he is reported to have won around $5.7 million.
When Haskel presents the bill, there will be a huge emphasis on the fact many Israeli competitors like Amit, Margolin and Lehavot have managed to act with pride and respect, which has greatly enhanced the reputation of their country. Opening up Poker is going to create a brand new platform for people to demonstrate the integrity and grace in which Israeli people conduct themselves.
Since the Supreme Court in Israel recently passed a ruling that has made Poker players sportsman rather than gamblers, there is every chance now that people will be able to play poker so long as they are doing so within authorised premises.
Israel does currently have legal gambling in place, but this is highly regulated. Compared to surrounding countries that are known for their conservative Islamic communities, Israel is actually quite a progressive nation when it comes to gambling laws.
Some of the current gambling laws that are in place involve the lottery and sports betting. It is the fact people can bet on sporting events that make people question why poker has not been legalised already. This is due to the fact many people classify the game as a sport rather than a case of pure luck.
Many casino games, such as roulette, are definitely enshrined with chance, but poker requires skills and tactical knowledge in order to come out on top. Just like sports, any luck will inevitably even out as the competition progresses, which will make this parameter less and less prevalent.
When it comes to moderating sports betting, the Israeli Sports Betting Council are the people in charge of overseeing the industry. Compared to other parts of the world, Israel is hugely behind the times since they only have two companies in which you can gamble with. They only offer weekly betting compared to the daily set-up experienced in certain European countries.
There was initially a moderator for online Poker within Israel that was shut down at some point during 2005. This is yet another reason why people in the country are a little confused as to what the laws about playing poker are and whether certain legislation has already been implemented.
To summarise, it will be undoubtedly interesting to see whether Israel can put in place laws to legalise poker and allow the game to flourish. Only time will tell as to whether Sharren Haskel and her proposed bill can convince the major political figures within the country, and we’re eager to keep our eye on these changes.