Netanyahu to Hold Meeting on Opening Tourist-only Casino in Southern Israel

Prime minister is a long-time supporter of a casino in Eilat, but in the past ultra-Orthodox and religious parties have been firmly opposed.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the weekly cabinet meeting, February 7, 2016.
Emil Salman

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will hold a meeting with his transportation and tourism ministers on the possibility of building a tourist-only casino near the southern city of Eilat, adjacent to the planned international airport. 

The Prime Minister's Office said that the meeting was only a preliminary one, and that no concrete plans were drawn up yet. 

Netanyahu has been a long-time supporter of opening a casino in Israel's southern resort city of Eilat. He broached the issue during his first term as prime minister and as a finance minister some years later. After the current coalition was put together, Netanyahu asked Ministers Yisrael Katz and Yariv Levin to examine the idea again, including the economic, social, legal aspects of opening a casino. It was stressed that the casino will cater only to tourists. 

Netanyahu believes that the casino will boost Eilat's economy, especially in relation to tourism, and will create more jobs in the city and its immediate vicinity. 

In September, Netanyahu asked the ministers to assess the viability of constructing a casino on the land currently occupied by the Eilat airport, or locating it in one of the city's hotels.

In the past, whenever the notion of opening a casino in Israel was discussed, ultra-Orhotodox and religious parties announced they will firmly oppose it.