Israel Blocks Online Gambling Sites

Israel has moved to block a number of illegal online gambling sites following a court ruling.

A district court judge in Tel Aviv has ruled in favor of the attorney general’s office’s cyber unit, which allows them to block locals from accessing three different gambling sites. The sites are Toto Bet 777, 1xBet and P2V Bet.

Gambling has traditionally been strictly regulated in the country and for the most part is illegal. The only types of gambling that are permitted are the lottery and sports betting. Companies based in Israel are not allowed to operate online gaming platforms.

Despite this ban, numerous notable gambling companies base some of their operations in Israel.

The London Stock Exchange listed 888 Holdings, for example, which was founded by a team of Israelis. Its marketing and development subsidiary is currently located in the country.

Playtech, an online gaming software developer, is also listed on the London Stock Exchange and has its technical support and marketing subsidiaries located in Israel.

Other notable parties in the gambling space that use Israeli staff include Ladbrokes Coral and William Hill, which both have marketing operations based in there.

What is behind the court ruling?

The basis for the court ruling comes a law that was passed in 2017 that gives the various district courts the power to order a block on any websites that promote nefarious or illegal content.

Since the law was approved, the authorities, led by the police, have blocked dozens of illicit websites. Some have questioned the efficacy of this approach, as internet service providers in Israel are required to blacklist such domain names.

Some believe that the people operating these sites need to be prosecuted, rather than just blocking Israeli residents from accessing them. A lawyer called Jonathan Klinger, who is spearheading the digital rights movement in Israel, is pushing this idea.

It has been said that getting around the block to access these blacklisted sites is relatively straightforward. Therefore, there may be a time in the future when the authorities start to actually prosecute these operators.

Other countries involved in blacklisting

It is natural that certain types of websites should be blocked from regular citizens, for example  platforms promoting the likes of terrorism and different forms of crime.

Of course, such blacklisting policies could get out of hand if conducted in the wrong manner.

Numerous countries have enacted the blacklisting of gambling operators. While some nations have complete bans on online gambling, others ban access to those sites that do not have the required license in the given jurisdiction to offer services to their residents.

Poland is one of those countries. After it introduced a blacklist on gambling companies without an online gaming license but that continued to target Polish citizens, there was an outcry.

This led to a court case. The courts ruled in favor of the authorities as the country’s gambling laws permit such a tactic. In July, the provincial administrative court upheld the approach taken by the ministry of finance.

The ministry has the legal right to make and publish a list of the gambling online domains that do not have localized permission to service Polish residents.

This list had been challenged by a number of unnamed international operators of online gambling, which argued that their good names had been besmirched by being part of the list, especially given their names were on the list without having been named in a court order.

The blacklist for gambling sites in Poland now encompasses more than 2,400 domains. Certain gambling operators are changing their domains to circumvent the bans.

Italy is taking a similar approach. In 2018, a new coalition government came to power that is anti-gambling. It has already implemented a ban on gambling advertising, which includes not allowing sports teams to be sponsored by gambling companies.

It now has a gambling site blacklist that is nearing 5,000 domains. The Autonomous Administration of State Monopolies (AAMS) is in charge of the blacklist, which was started i 2006 and is said to be the largest of its kind. Those operators not adhering to the Italian Finance Act will be dealt with swiftly.

Greece currently has a blacklist of more than 400 domains and Bulgaria has a list of more than 100 domains. This approach is clearly becoming more popular.

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