Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu continues chasing his dream of finally opening a casino in Israel.
Netanyahu is reportedly planning to sit down with his transportation and tourism ministers to assess the viability of opening a tourist-only casino in the southern city of Eilat, located close to a proposed international airport, according to Israeli news outlet Haaretz.
Quoting the Prime Minister’s Office, the news report said “the meeting was only a preliminary one, and that no concrete plans were drawn up yet.”
Netanyahu has been pushing for a casino in the country, initially during his first term as prime minister and then again as a finance minister several years later. Last year, the prime minister tapped two of his cabinet members—Ministers Yisrael Katz and Yariv Levin—to conduct feasibility studies on opening a casino in Eilat, a city on the Red Sea coast.
Levin, the tourism minister, already said he “fully” supports the idea of introducing casino gaming to the country as a way of boosting tourism and giving Eilat an economic shot in the arm. However, the minister admitted that casinos had “very serious social potential,” which would need careful planning so they could proceed “with restrictions and supervision to prevent the casino from becoming an incubator for crime.”
At least two casino proposals are on the Israeli government’s table: the first will have casino gaming options introduced to hotels in Eilat, particularly those hotel chains that already operate casinos in other countries, while the second proposal would see a new large scale venue built on the site of Eilat’s airport.
Netanyahu’s pal, casino tycoon Sheldon Adelson, had already tried to open a casino in the country several times since the 1990s, but his plans were repeatedly thwarted by the tourism ministers. A casino in Israel will see one of Netanyahu’s campaign promise fulfilled—that he will check the “possible socioeconomic effects of legalizing a casino” in the country as well as to connect Eilat to the Israeli economy “by creating more jobs in the town.”