Plus500 founder's last business ran into trouble over gambling laws in Israel

Men play backgammon as they shelter from the rain at the port of Piraeus ahead of the general election tomorrow on January 24, 2015 near Athens, Greece. According to the latest opinion polls, the left-wing Syriza party are poised to defeat Prime Minister Antonis Samaras' conservative New Democracy party in the election, which will take place tomorrow. European leaders fear that Greece could abandon the Euro, write off some of its national debt and put an end to the country's austerity by renegotiating the terms of its bailout if the radical Syriza party comes to power. Greece's potential withdrawal from the eurozone has become known as the 'Grexit'.Matt Cardy/Getty ImagesMen play backgammon as they shelter from the rain at the port of Piraeus, near Athens, Greece. Play65’s online, for-money version of the game was said to violate Israeli gambling laws.

Contract for difference trading company Plus500 has been in the headlines for all the wrong reasons over the past two weeks, after being forced by the UK’s financial watchdog to suspend thousands of accounts while it overhauls its anti-money laundering checks.

The company is now being sold to Israeli gambling software company Playtech.

But the crisis of the last fortnight is not the first time Plus500 CEO Gal Haber has found himself on the wrong side of regulators. Haber’s previous business was accused of violating Israeli gambling laws back in 2006.

Israeli newspaper Haaretz reports that InterLogic was told by Israeli police to shutdown its for-money backgammon games on its Play65 website in 2006. Police, who were cracking down on gambling at the time, said Play65’s game violated gambling laws that prohibit betting on games of chance.

The company immediately blocked players from playing for real money and appealed the ruling. The company argued that backgammon is a game based on skill, which is permitted under Israeli law. InterLogic even consulted legal experts and received a written opinion prior to launching its backgammon service, according to Haaretz. The company
was eventually allowed to let people play for money again in May 2007, according to The Marker.

InterLogic was founded by Haber and Alon Gonen, according to Israeli business publication Globes, and Haber was COO of InterLogic at the time according to his LinkedIn profile. He left the company in 2007, the same year the business was sold. Both Haber and Gonen were co-founders of Plus500.

Haber declined request to comment on the incident made through Plus500’s press relations agency. Haber also has not responded to a Facebook message sent last week.

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