Although there aren’t many opportunities to bet on sports in Israel, there are several lawmakers who would like to limit it further, by removing the option to wager on sporting events that involve animals.
The bill, submitted by Yisrael Hasson and currently enjoying the multi-party support of eight other members in the country’s 120-seat legislature, intends to amend Israeli gambling laws on an animal welfare basis.
“World experience shows that in countries that have tried to allow gambling, alongside regulations designed to protect animals, the efforts to limit the cruelty to them have been empty,” indicates the explanation attached to the proposal, adding that “the stress of gambling that involves pushing the animals to the extreme and getting from them maximum gains supersedes all regulatory efforts. Suffering and cruelty are inherent to the industry.”
Betting on horse racing is limited to a single track, though gambling news reports last year reported that an agreement had been reached to allow Israelis to bet on races in Ireland and the UK.
Critics of the bill claim that opponents of horse race betting are merely using the animal cruelty excuse to torpedo the fledgling sports betting industry in Israel.
Animal welfare advocates, however, support the move and cite statistics according to which the use of stimulants and pain relievers lead to health problems that lead to a much shorter life expectancy among racehorses.
“What appears as a noble sport is actually an industry of evil and pain,” claims Israeli animal rights group Hakol Chai.
“The law, if it passes, would prevent, among other things, the development of a horse-racing industry and would save horses from severe and unnecessary suffering. It is important for Israel to learn from other countries that now are searching for ways to minimize racing damage, instead of importing evils from them,” concludes the statement from the group.
Should the bill be voted into force, punters would face heavy fines and even up to a year in prison.