Israeli police on Tuesday uncovered an illegal internet gambling website that is hosted offshore, but specifically targeted Israeli players. The bust was the result of a lengthy investigation carried out by detectives from the National Police Investigations Unit, as well as members of a special internet gambling task force from the Lahav 433 unit.
A total of five arrests have been made in connection with the bust, including two brothers from Tel Aviv who are suspected of heading the network. The three other individuals detained are believed to have provided technical support and to have managed payments and finances for the website.
Despite these arrests, the rogue gambling site, called internet1x2.com, is still online because it is hosted on servers someplace in Eastern Europe, far outside the reach of Israeli police. Because the site offers online gambling services that targeted players in Israel without being licensed to do so, the site is illegal under Israeli gambling laws. The website is available in the Hebrew language, and allows Israeli players to make deposits using credit cards and bank transfers. While internet gambling in Israel is legal, the only sites that are allowed to operate are official, government-sanctioned lottery and sports betting sites.
Earlier this month, police uncovered a separate internet gambling operation, but it was quite primitive in comparison to this one, and actually involved courriers who handled all money transfers to and from players. In comparison, the site just uncovered operated wholly online. In addition to sportsbook services, the site ran online poker and casino games, including live casino games that used webcams to send video feeds of live dealers to players’ computers.
Because Israel lacks proper online gambling websites, players who wish to gamble online have no choice but to use foreign internet gambling sites. Some filtering takes place by Israeli ISPs to try to block access to such sites, but they are not 100% effective. The only reason that Tuesday’s case ended in the closure of a foreign-hosted gambling site is because its operators were working out of Israel – sites run by individuals outside of the country remain out of reach from the Israeli police.