Judge Blocks Unlicensed Gambling Sites Which Sign up Israelis
A district court judge in Tel Aviv ordered the ISP blocks on three unlicensed gambling websites which allow signups from Israeli residents: 1xbet.com, Totobet777.com, and p2vbet.com. The judge is enforcing a longstanding ban on Israel citizens accessing real money online gambling sites.
In Israel, the only legal forms of gambling are offline lottery betting and sports betting. The Knesset also passed laws years ago which state Israel-based companies cannot run online gaming operations.
Despite the longstanding ban on online gaming signups, Israel is home to several famous online gambling companies. Playtech was founded by Estonian-born Israeli citizen, Teddy Sagi. 888 Holdings was founded by Israeli citizens.
William Hill PLC and Ladbrokes Coral Group PLC have regional headquarters in Israel, because the country’s tech sector employees are highly prized. William Hill and Ladbrokes do not sign up Israeli players, just as 888 and Playtech restrict play from Israel.
ISP Blocks for Serious Crimes
Legislation passed in the Knesset in 2017 gave Israeli judges the right to block access to websites for serious crimes. If a judge orders for a site to be blocked, then Israeli Internet service providers (ISPs) must block the residents from access those IP addresses.
The list of serious crimes includes sites which publish terrorist information, pedophilic content, or drug-related sales (like Silk Road). Unlicensed online gambling sites also make the list as “serious crimes”.
Israel Gets Serious on Gambling
The district court judge’s block of gambling site ISPs is another indication that Israel is taking a hard line stance on gambling. While many countries institute technical bans on interactive gambling, some never seriously enforce those laws. Agencies tasked with such responsibilities complain they do not have the resources to devote to the task, at least when more serious crimes abound.
Some government agencies asked about enforcing other countries’ gaming laws cite sovereignty issues, along with the limited resources explanation. Still other countries devote serious resources to enforcement, which appears to be the case with Israel at the moment.
Last year, Israel’s tax authority began trying to collect years-old back taxes from Israeli professional poker players. Officials apparently used sites like Hendon Mob and players’ own social media posts to find out how much the players’ made, then demanded payments on gross winnings (not net gains). Players complained bitterly, but were left with little recourse.
Tel Aviv Gaming Operators
The above list of famous gaming brands with legal ties to Israel is impressive. More infamously, US-facing rogue websites like Begado Casino, Grand Macau, Jackpot Grand, Casino Titan (not to be confused with Titan Casino), and Win Palace were launched by Israeli citizens Gerry Shalon and Zev Orenstein.
The two were the masterminds behind the RevenueJet, Affactive Media, and NetAd Management scam sites which won a half-dozen awards from CasinoMeister as the worst blacklisted sites of the year. Shalon and Orenstein were pulling down $75 million a month in gross revenues before their criminal enterprise was exposed by the FBI and Israeli police.
Shalon and Orenstein were the prime movers in a cyber-attack scheme against JPMorgan Chase in 2014. Along with an American and Russian accomplice, they hacked the US’s largest financial institution and stole account information for 76 million individual Americans and 7 million US businesses. The FBI originally thought it was a state-sponsored attack by Russia, then later realized the Israeli hackers were a part of an old-fashioned pump-and-dump scheme on the stock market.
All involved were arrested and extradited to the United States, and only recently were released from prison. During the arrests and extradition process, which played out from July to November 2015, Israel’s newspapers reported on a Tel Aviv suburb known for its online gambling operators.