Israel Set to Legalize Betting at the RacesPublished August 22, 2004 by OCR Editor
Israel's social and economic cabinet recently approved the development of horse racing tracks in the north and south of the country, which would include betting at the tracks...
The first race track will be in the north of Israel in the Gilboa region, and later one will also be built in the south. The hope was that entrepreneurs would be encouraged to invest in raising horses, establishing veterinary facilities, riding schools and services, and that this would provide jobs and boost the economy in these two regions of the country.
Agriculture Minister Yisrael Katz proposed the initiative and said it would be a great boost for the rural economy in Israel. He said the rules for betting would be coordinated with the council that arranges gambling in sport. The ministry will supervise all aspects of horse racing to assure legality.
The treasury backed the proposal from the outset and said the first tender for the race track would be issued within six months. The hope is that thousands of jobs will be created in the north.
Horse racing brings in millions of dollars in many countries around the world and jockeys make good salaries. Several attempts were made to bring the sport to Israel in the past- at the existing private racing club in Pardes Hannah, Jews and Arabs take part side by side without the slightest problem.
"When I heard the news, I nearly fell off my seat," said a local horse lover, Daman Zuabi of Taibeh-Zuabiyeh village near Afula. "I buy feed for my horses before I buy myself a shirt," he said. Zuabi, who used to own seven horses and now has two. The horse race track is a dream which he now hopes to see come true.
"I want a horse farm that will be recognized worldwide, and a riding school," said Zuabi. "It is impossible to imagine what this will do for the area. People will have jobs and everyone knows that makes people happy. Children will come after school to the horses instead of to the streets."
"We have a great deal to learn about the subject, starting from producing the right feed for race horses and including the veterinary services," The chair of the Gilboa regional council, Danny Atar added. "We have to put ourselves on an international footing because horses are sent from country to country."
"This will become a different world," says Atar's deputy, Eid Salim. "The whole region will breathe tourism. Take Afula, for example. It will become a major town, and only a railway from Haifa to Afula is now missing."
Zuabi said: "It's not by chance that our area has been chosen. A horse is an animal that brings people together. Whoever loves horses, loves people and we in this regional council have made it our aim to live together, in sorrow and in joy - Jews, Arabs, moshavniks, kibbutzniks - we have them all."