High Stakes…


In a region where social and political tension is high and in some instances, mere life is a gamble, one may wonder where citizens of the Middle East find time to unwind, relax and enjoy life. As some individuals may not entirely enjoy casino life, it is definitely an environment in which people can escape, play hard, win big (hopefully) and live life. There are two countries in the Middle East that stand above the rest in term of casino life, though progress to reform the legality of gambling is still under way in many of the nations in this region. These countries are Lebanon and Israel.

In Israel, legislators have yet to finalize the legalization of gambling, though there are numerous gambling establishments operating within the food and entertainment district. These establishments are overseen by the   Israeli government (Knesset) and moreover, the slot machines authorized by the Ministry of Finance. Eilat, the southern most port city in Israel, is where most gambling occurs. The Eilat casinos are located in the Red Sea onboard Casino Ships! Currently, there are six different ships ranging from passenger ships to yachts, many of which were purchased from other state’s ex-Presidents.

Casino Victoria cruising off the coast of Eilat, Israel

Unlike America’s mainly bipartisan electoral process, Israel had around thirty political parties competing for seats in the Knesset, one of which was the Casino Party. Although, they don’t currently hold seats in the Knesset, they strived to legalize casinos on these grounds:

1) To compete with the extremely successful Palestinian casino in Jericho, this was to be followed by another in Tull-Karm (the Palestinian casino is closed now)

2) To keep the Israelis’ hard-earned money in Israeli hands, which could help fund various social events (like the lottery does, at present)

3) To provide people with job opportunities, and undoubtedly other rationalizations. But, the arguments against such legalization were also quite powerful, and they were:

a) Casino gambling is very closely associated with organized crime
b) Gambling is addictive in nature. It has the possibility of creating another ill of society, and
c) Legalizing it somewhat “koshers” an otherwise dishonest means of making money.

On the other hand, Lebanon has a very positive and legal casino life. They have one land casino in Jounieh, located 15 miles north of Beirut, which also includes many night clubs and resorts. In addition, there are cruise casino ships and horse tracks in Lebanon. It is interesting that Israel has not yet legalized gambling, seeing as though their counterpart’s casino industry is flourishing. The competition is there, though Israel has yet to fully take advantage of this opportunity. Why do you think Israel has yet to legalize gambling or build a land casino? If a casino is built in israel, do you believe it will be a target for terrorists?

Casino Du Liban located in Jounieh, Lebanon

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11 thoughts on “High Stakes…

  1. I do not think it would be a target for terrorists (regardless of that I do not think they should called terrorists, If you mean the Palestinian people) because if the “terrorists” wanted to sabotage something in Israel they have thousands of places to destroy. Why the focus should be on Casinos?

    1. I don’t gamble, you may feel excited when you win but the chances of winning are very less. Also there is a high risk that people who gamble may become addicted.

  2. I think, in general, anywhere there are large groups of people are prime locations for terrorist attacks. And Aya, I think any people, even if many think their reasons are justified that attacks large groups of mostly innocent people, are terrorists. In fairness I believe that this means the Israelis, Palestinians, and yes even American forces have all acted as terrorists.

  3. I think this topic is really interesting and really shows the differences between the two cultures. I think it would be interesting to see what draws people into gambling and what makes them feel the need for this, as well as if these two countries effect the way people look at gambling. These are some very interesting finds and I think culturally they really reveal some insight into peoples lives and values.

  4. It is really interesting how different the gambling scene is between the two countries. It seems to me that religion might have a lot to play in the differences. Since Israel was somewhat founded on the basis or religion, their laws and actions mimic how the bible says to live. Also, it is interesting to see how the two countries view gambling as compared to the rest of the Middle East. They are definitely two of the least strict countries in the Middle East, which definitely shows. Lebanon seems to parallel the US as a whole, whereas Israel is somewhat like the US on this issue. Some states have not legalized gambling and usually casinos are found in bodies of water outside of the state, just like how casino boats are in Israel.

  5. Interesting topic. It reminded me of an article I read a couple weeks ago about geographical shifts in gambling trends. Gambling can be a good way to attract a lot of money and people. But, apparently, horseracing is an immensely popular sport. Whoda thought!

    Not only is it popular, it’s moving out of the west toward the east and the middle east. “The three richest races in the world are now the Dubai World Cup ($10m), the Melbourne Cup ($6.4m) and the Japan Cup ($6.7m).

    “Already Western horses are heading east. The four most recent winners of the Dubai World Cup were trained in Dubai, Japan, France and America. The Melbourne Cup winner in 2011 was French-trained and Qatari-owned.”

    Very interesting stuff. Gambling isn’t just a measure of the kinds of vices in which a nation chooses to indulge. It’s a measure of economic growth and the rise of global, economic powers. China is becoming a very big player in horse racing.

    http://www.economist.com/node/21563708

  6. When my Global Leadership group was researching the hotel industry in South East Asia last year the topic of gambling was prominent. Our research found that many hotels are paring up with casinos which has become an extremely attractive appeal to many tourists. Mostly, casino and hotel connections are for higher class hotels and are bringing in high amount of revenue. It’s interesting to know that Lebanon is already utilizing this economy booster and Israel, for whatever reason, has not created the same industry.

  7. When my Global Leadership group was researching the hotel industry in South East Asia last year the topic of gambling was prominent. Our research found that many hotels are paring up with casinos which has become an extremely attractive appeal to many tourists. Mostly, casino and hotel connections are for higher class hotels and are bringing in high amount of revenue. It’s interesting to know that Lebanon is already utilizing this economy booster and Israel, for whatever reason, has not created the same industry.

  8. Indeed we do have an old gaming culture however the question is the following: Is that the best way to go? The problem that the Lebanese economy has been facing is that it has solely counted on tourism and since every couple months we have a new security incident this explains why our industry has been in crumble…

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