Kachlon Goes on Warpath Against Gambling

Lotto. Photo by Abir Sultan/Flash90.
A lottery ticket. (Abir Sultan/Flash90)

Finance Minister Moshe Kachlon is dead-set against gambling of all types, even the socially-acceptable types – and on Wednesday, he declared his intention to tax lottery winnings of prizes as little as NIS 5,000, instead of the NIS 50,000 that taxes start at today. The tax could be as much as 35 percent of a winner’s winnings.

The numbers were the result of a committee appointed earlier this year by Kachlon. The final report on gambling in Israel was presented to the Finance Minister and to Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, both of who said they would advance the law until it was approved by the Knesset.

The new rules are expected to bring an additional NIS 200 million into the state’s coffers, but for Kachlon, it is not about the money. In interviews, the Finance Minister has said that he sees gambling, including legalized gambling via lotteries, as a tax on the poor, as they divert much needed funds from family obligations and expenses to the near-impossible dream of winning the big prize. The Lottery Authority had been planning on market growth of 10 percent this year, but Kachlon wants to reduce that to 3 percent.

In addition to the lottery tax, Kachlon has proposed outlawing “one-armed bandits” – slot machines that are legal in some neighborhoods of Tel Aviv and Haifa, and a permanent ban on horse racing. Israel does not have a racetrack, but horse races are held at several venues several times a year.

In a statement, Kachlon said that “involvement in gambling is an unacceptable addiction for many people seeking a better life. It is a fantasy that ends up working against them, as it turns them into addicts. As a result, I will seek ways to implement this report’s findings into law.”