Gambling Venue Not Part of Hamas’ Itinerary
Hamas, which will dominate the newly appointed Palestinian government, has said that it will not approve the reopening of the Jericho casino and gambling venue. The casino, which is located in the storied city of Jericho in what is today called the West Bank, was opened in 1998 and was the only gambling venue in Palestinian Authority. The casino is owned by Casinos Austria and was shut down after the beginning of the intifada in September 2000. The casino and entertainment venue was very popular with Israelis and Palestinians alike.
During the two year period in which gambling did take place in the casino, many Israelis used to flock to Jericho to enjoy the casino entertainment. Gambling is banned in Israel and the casino, which was run under a special license obtained by the Palestinian Finance Ministry, was a controversial entertainment venue. Much of the money earned from casino gambling is believed to have gone straight into the personal bank accounts of many senior Palestinian Authority leaders, such as Yasser Arafat. It was considered a place of much corruption and when it was shut down in 2000, many breathed a sigh of relief.
And so the new Hamas leadership, which will be trying to run the Palestinian areas under a tight fist and with primarily Islamic principles, said that there is no way that they will consider allowing a casino or other gambling venue in their territory. This is not only because of the Islamic belief against gambling and the brazen Islamist goals of Hamas, but also because the casino venue itself represents the corrupt Palestinian rulers which Hamas defeated in recent elections.