On the first week of the year the national lottery was forced to shut down 500 slot machines along with 150 keno machines after negotiations to renew its operating license failed to reach an agreement.
The High Court of Justice decided to allow the lottery monopoly to reactivate the gaming machines until the court finally rules on the matter. Justice Yoram Danzinger is against an agreement between Mifal Hapayis, the national lottery of Israel, and the Ministry of Finance, where the former was forced to switch off the slot and keno machines immediately in exchange to be able to offer online lotteries and other games to Israeli residents. When the company was forced to shut down the services, it also demanded US$208 million from the machines, stating that would’ve been the amount of money that they would’ve lost if they couldn’t operate in the country.
Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon is trying to push a campaignn to end the “dirty money” that comes from the slot machines operated by Mifal Hapayis, because he considers that they hurt Israel’s poorest families the most since they’re most likely to bet money. Mifal Hapayis’ millions in revenues go directly to community projects, which is why the judge believes that they should not stop the operations until the court makes the final decision.
Danzinger urged the treasury and the lottery company to respond to the petition by January 25. Ruth Barak, an attorney that represents Mifal Hapayis, said that they need at least a year to prepare themselves if they need to deactivate their services: “If they continue operating a few more months it won’t be a national disaster. Against that, all the franchisees rely on lotteries for their income.” According to Haaretz, the Finance Minister said that even though he is sorry about the financial outcome for the company, he has no doubt that they will succeed in convincing the judges that in an ethical society with values, “there is no place for slot machines placed in areas closest to society’s weakest populations that destroy families and people’s lives.”