Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu convened Wednesday an impressive forum of ministers and director- generals of various minitries for a fateful discussion. Not about stopping the knife terror or road death; not the encroaching poverty that is suffocating people or managing the crises of other areas of our lives - but rather about setting up a casino in Eilat.
Tourism Minister Yariv Levin seeks to build four casinos, Netanyahu wants one, a committee voted in favor, but Education Minister Naftali Bennett, the religious parties and the police are opposed. My bet? Bennett and the ultra-Orthodox will get what they whish for, as usual.
In general I am in favor of gambling. When I visit a casino abroad, the tinkling of the slot machines sparks within me a primordial flame. I usually lose a nominal amount that provides me with many hours of excitement, and occasionally I earn minor amounts of pocket money.
In any case, I take money from Israel and I spend it abroad, which is bad for the country. The unbearable easiness of online betting casinos give those who oppose the casino plan an ostrich-like aspect of those who would chop down telegram poles to stop messages during the WhatsApp era.
The opponents of casinos say that gambling is fun those who know how to set limits, but what about those whose temptation is uncontrollable? Research shows that gamblers are for the most part poor people, who lose their money for a negligible chance to win. That can be easily countered by saying that the security and regulation of all the casinos in the world are at a level comparable to that of a small nuclear plant and that it is possible to prevent such tragedies with simple technical measures, such as issuing betting permits only for those who possess proven incomes or limiting the amount of money allotted each evening for betting.
Moreover, in Israel there are currently plenty of legal and illegal gambling venues. Underground casinos operate in each city, for those who want to find them. Far more alarming are the Toto (betting on soccer) and Lotto booths, where many poor people spend their meager salaries or unemployment benefits on gambling that is marketed to them through cutesy cartoon characters and makes winning seem very possible. This injustice is what the opponents of casinos should rail about. But regarding this they are somehow silent.
The counter-arguments of the ultra-Orthodox, police and Bennett are particularly ridiculous, because all three of these parties support criminal behavior, openly or indirectly. For the power of the ultra-Orthodox depends on the increase in the number of ignorant and poor people, Bennett’s depends on the strength of illegal outposts, and the Israel Police’s is well demonstrated by the behavior of its nymphomaniac officials and its thuggish juniors.
If the building of a casino in Eilat is properly done, expect the south to bloom economically, thus giving the anemones that are now blooming in the hills of the Negev some tough competition. The problem is that in Israel nothing is ever done properly, and so it’s likely that we’re in for another criminal fiasco. But that is linked to the country's citizens, who are well known gambling addicts, who vote for, time and time again, the same lame horse.