Legalisation of poker back on the table

Sharren Haskel proposed bill Israel poker
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A new bill proposed by New Hope faction chairwoman Sharren Haskel and Yesh Atid faction head Boaz Toporovsky would legalise poker and allow Israel to host international tournaments.


The legislation, proposed on 16 November, would enable the minister of culture and sports to grant poker licences.

Haskel had previously proposed a similar bill back in 2018, following a Supreme Court ruling which recognised poker as a game of skill, rather than luck. However, it is suggested the latest measure is likely to gain more traction now she is a faction chairwoman and has obtained the support of a key ally in Toporovsky.

Nevertheless, the new legislation could still face an uphill climb. Any proposal to legalise gambling is likely to be opposed by the Knesset’s four religious parties: Shas, United Torah Judaism, the Religious Zionist Party and Ra’am (United Arab List).

There have been a number of attempts to legalise gambling in Israel. In 2015, former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu proposed opening a casino in Eilat to help boost tourism, but the idea never came to fruition.

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