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Israel – Israel Prime Minister wants to develop Las Vegas of the Red Sea

By - 5 October 2015

Israel is looking at legalising casino gaming to transform the tourist coastal city of Eilat into the Las Vegas of the Red Sea.

Israel’s Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has reportedly entrusted two senior ministers with examining the potential of opening the country’s first legal casino in Eilat. The move would stem the flow of Israeli gambling spend to Eilat-based casino cruises and also to neighbouring Egypt. The plan, at this stage, is to merely check the possible socioeconomic effects of legalising a casino in Israel and in connecting Eilat to the Israeli economy by creating more jobs.

Tourism Minister Yariv Levin said he supported the concept of casino gaming. Two proposals will be considered, firstly to allow existing hoteliers to add gaming floors and secondly building a purpose built resort casino on the site of the soon-to-be-replaced airport.

Talking on a local radio show, Mr. Levin said: “As tourism minister, I support this fully. I have no doubt that the way to help Eilat economically and to increase the number of tourists is by means of a casino. There is no doubt that a casino also has very serious social potential and if we go ahead with this, we have to make sure that this is done with restrictions and supervision to prevent the casino from becoming an incubator for crime.

“I am coordinating a detailed inquiry into this matter and when it is concluded, I will present the conclusions to the prime minister and based on that, we will make decisions,” he added.

Las Vegas Sands owner Sheldon Adelson has long been a financial backer of Israel’s Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. The two had several attempts to introduce casino gaming thwarted by various tourist ministers in the 1990s. In 1998 Casinos Austria International opened a casino in Jericho, in Palestinian Authority-controlled territory, which was closed just six years later at the height of the conflicts.

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