Local news agencies began reporting last month that Turkey is introducing new controls over money transfers and ATM withdrawals as part of a government effort to combat financial fraud and illegal gambling.
Trend News Agency also reports a special commission has been established under the Prosecutor General’s Office specifically to monitor online betting sites. According to Trend, the government will be prosecuting the operators and users of gambling sites in Turkey.
Recent reports state the Turkish government will place individuals who frequently withdraw the maximum allowable amount from ATMs under “special supervision” as the country looks to crack down even further on real-world and online gambling. This news comes after the government announced back in July the start of a two-year crackdown against unauthorized gambling in Turkey.
In the July notice, the government announced plans to combat online gambling on multiple fronts. The crackdown includes amending existing gaming legislation, monitoring the internet, disrupting payments and more. Reports at the time also noted government plans to send warning text messages to users found visiting online gambling sites on their smartphones.
Additional reports from three months ago mentioned the possibility of using surveillance cameras to capture images of those believed to be using ATMs to claim gambling proceeds. Now, it appears Turkey is following through with its threats to disrupt payments.
Turkey strictly regulates all forms of gambling to such an extent that only the Milli Piyango lottery and the state-operated Sportoto are the only legal places to gamble or bet on sports. All other forms of gambling are prohibited by force of law. Operators, banking institutions, affiliate marketers and players are all subject to criminal penalties if caught dealing with illegal gambling or sports betting in Turkey.
Despite the strict anti-gambling laws, Turkey has had trouble keeping it under control. The Turkish Banking Supervision Body (BDDK) explained to local news outlets last month that roughly 5 million people are involved in illegal gambling and that ATMs play a key role in dispersing funds to those involved.
CalvinAyre.com also notes that more than 10% of Turkey’s total online commerce spending is related to illegal online gambling. Turkey has long attempted to combat unauthorized gambling and betting, but it’s clear authorities have their work cut out for them. Even so, the government has not wavered in its commitment to combat illegal gambling.
If anything, Turkey is more motivated than ever to prevent access to offshore betting sites. There could also be some overlap between this news and recent statements President Erdogan has made regarding the outflow of money from Turkey to countries abroad.
President Erdogan gave a speech last week during which he said, “we don’t look favorably upon those who are making money in this country and attempting to smuggle their wealth abroad.” He backtracked somewhat the next day and stated he has not demanded to restrict the movement of capital, but the sentiment is clear: President Erdogan does not like seeing money flow away from Turkey.
International gambling sites now find themselves in the unfortunate position of not only operating contrary to Turkish gaming law, but doing so while sucking money out of the country. This double-whammy has undoubtedly played a role in motivating Turkish authorities to take all measures necessary to put an end to online betting.
Gamblers living in Turkey are advised to pay close attention to these developments and understand the risks associated with betting online. Players should be aware that the government is actively cracking down on operators and players alike.
Wes Burns has more than a decade’s worth of experience as a writer, researcher, and analyst in the legal online betting industry and is co-founder of OnlineBettingSites.com. Wes approaches his work from the viewpoint of players.