BRITISH COMPANY FIGHTS ISRAELI HORSERACING BAN
Betting services firm GBI alleges Israeli government made flawed decision in rescinding the 2012 authorisation of betting through Toto.
GBI, a British company that provides betting services to the Israeli Toto, is pressing the Israeli government to reconsider its decision to ban horseracing from early 2017, threatening that it may seek millions in compensation if it does not.
The Israeli newspaper Haaretz reports that Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon announced the ban recently, saying that the 460 million shekels ($121.8 million) generated from betting on horses every year by the Council for Organized Sports Betting, popularly known as Toto, was “tainted money.”
GBI claims that the Ministers decision to rescind the 2012 authorisation of betting through Toto is flawed, and that the government committee chaired by Treasury Director General Shai Babad that recommended banning betting on horses unfairly accused the betting industry with exploiting the poor and encouraging addiction.
Zohar Landa, the attorney representing GBI in Israel commented: “No one disputes that the [Babad] committee was not presented with new facts…and that the company was never given the opportunity to present other data on its behalf.”
Had GBI been able to make a presentation to the committee, it would have been able to present “clear data that the addiction rate is low both in absolute terms and in comparison to other products in the field of gambling,” he said, adding:
“Adopting the committee’s recommendations was a severe and blatant violation of the fundamental principles of natural justice and the right of the company to be heard.”
Haaretz reports that GBI executives and Treasury officials met this week to discuss the question of compensation in view of GBIs Toto contract, which runs through to August 2018. The company has been generating revenue of around 20 million shekels annually from Israeli betting action.
Whilst the talking goes on, GBI has also reportedly approached Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked and Yuli Edelstein, the Knesset speaker in a move to short-circuit the horseracing ban.