Is Israel the Next Vegas? Looking to build Desert Casino
Back in 1930, when Nevada legalized gambling, Las Vegas seemed to be the most unlikely place to become a future gambling mecca. After all, it had just 5,000 residents and was smack dab in the middle of a Nevada desert. Fast-forward over eight decades later, and Vegas is home to almost 600,000 people, more than 100 casinos, and it attracts 40 million visitors a year.
Taking all of this into account, casino executives think that Israel could have a hidden gambling gem in their Negev Desert. This issue came up when Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval and 50 businessmen went to Israel to discuss trade.
One of the hot topics was building a casino in the Negev, which covers around 60% of the country’s territory. Interestingly enough though, only 8% of Israelis actually live in this region. So one might wonder why anybody would build a casino here.
The big answer is Mitzpe Ramon, which is home to the luxurious Beersheba Hotel. Mitzpe Ramon has a large tourism base, and it’s located right next to the world’s biggest crater – a massive hole that’s 25 miles long and 5 miles wide. Given Mitzpe Ramon’s heavy tourism base, a nearby casino would stand a good chance of success.
Another reason why companies are so interested in building a casino in Israel is because there’s no competition. Politicians in the Jewish state have fought for casino gambling, but to no avail. However, increased interest from foreign businessmen could have some effect in bringing gambling to Israel.
Assuming a Negev Desert casino is a reality, it’s not entirely clear which company would have the right to build it. One favorite would be Las Vegas Sands because their chairman, Sheldon Adelson, owns Isreal’s largest newspaper, Maariv. But at this time, Sands isn’t actively pursuing an Israeli casino.
In any case, it’s at least interesting that some major discussion has been started about gambling in Israel.