The Knesset's Finance Committee has granted the Israeli Commission for Sports Gambling a permit for betting on horse races taking place abroad. In the first stage, the Commission has received an approval to contact a foreign operator to operate a betting program for horse races abroad.
Europe has several horse racing betting operators - in France, Sweden, Britain and other countries. Gamblers can bet at local stands, on their personal computers through the operator's website or on the phone.
The list of races, which are held every few minutes, is published on the operators' website and in its outlets, where the race can be watched on huge screens. Gamblers can collect the prize money immediately after the race.
One of the operators the Israeli Commission has contacted is French company PMU, which has been active since 1931, has 11,000 outlets in France, a gambling website and a gambling telephone service.
The company, which is active in dozens of countries, offers a wide variety of horse races taking place in France, Japan, the United States and Australia. France's horse racing betting industry generates some €9 billion (about $12.5 billion) a year.
After the Commission signs an agreement with the foreign operator, it will have to translate the races, set up betting outlets and adjust its website and payment arrangements. According to estimates, Israelis will be able to start betting on horse races within one year.
The minimum bet amount is expected to stand at NIS 10 (€2, $2.85), similar to the global price. Gamblers may win as much as tens of thousands of euros for one single bet.
The Commission's activities currently focus on soccer and basketball betting, and it recently received an approval for sports driving, tennis, handball, baseball and football betting as well.
The new permit is expected to increase the Commission's income and lead to the construction of sports facilities at a total investment of NIS 5.5 billion ($1.57 billion).
Culture and Sports Minister Limor Livnat said the new permit would help the State fight illegal gambling. Tzahi Fishbein, chairman of the Commission for Sports Gambling, said the move would "help increase proceeds in favor of Israeli sports".
Lior Zilberstein in Paris contributed to this report
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