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The Knesset plenum on Tuesday passed a bill banning the sale of state lottery tickets to minors. The law was passed unanimously on its second and third readings and will come into effect in six months.

Once in effect, the law will impose a penalty of NIS 13,000 or six months imprisonment for vendors caught selling 'Lotto', 'Toto', or 'Winner' tickets to individuals under the age of 18. Vendors will be entitled to demand proof of identity before selling tickets.

The new law will override the Sports Gambling Regulatory Council's current ethical code, which allows betting from the age of 16. MKs Ahmed Tibi (Ra'am Tal), Dov Khenin (Hadash) and National Religious Party Chairman Zevulun Orlev brought the bill before the Knesset.

Knesset Legislation, Law and Justice Committee Chairman Menachem Ben Sasson (Kadima) who presented the bill to the plenum said the committee had deliberated over whether the law should carry a criminal penalty. The decision was made after the committee heard expert testimony that minors were becoming addicted to gambling in Israel.

MK Orlev told the plenum that numerous surveys had found that compulsive gambling in minors led to low grades at school, skipping class, violence, theft, alcohol and drug abuse.

He expressed his certainty that the new law would drastically reduce "these ills and evils".