Turkish government reveals gambling crack down details

Turkish Finance Minister Naci Agbal
Turkish Finance Minister Naci Agbal reveals gambling crack down details.

The Turkish government is being upfront to local media, revealing plans to seize as much money as possible from blocking Turkish players from gambling at offshore sites.

According to local media outlet Milliyet, the Turkish Finance Minister, Naci Agbal, revealed the Government is attempting to obtain as much money as it can from Turkish players gambling at offshore online gambling sites.

The Finance Minister has estimated that illegal gambling revenue accounts for 40 billion liras per year.

The comments follow the announcement of a two-year crackdown on illegal gambling activities including online casinos in Turkey, as well as land-based gambling dens, in July.

According to Calvin Ayre, the government has assigned Turkish financial institutions to detect and crack down on illegal gambling activity, with the Financial Crimes Investigation Board (MASAK) ensuring local banks participate.

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Turkey’s internet service providers (ISPs) have also been monitoring online activity, with Minister Agbal warning gamblers that they will have their bankroll confiscated and face harsh penalties if they continue gambling.

To really emphasise the point, people who dabble in illegal online gambling will receive a text message alerting them that the government is monitoring them.

Minister Agbal has also gone down the public image route, claiming that offshore gambling sites are run by international criminal networks and if citizens are patriotic they wouldn’t knowingly spend their money at sites which could indirectly “threaten Turkey’s national security.”

The Finance Minister has also been quoted by local Turkish media claiming that illegal gambling operators in the country employ taxi drivers to collect money and take it to bank accounts set up to handle illegal betting.

Minister Agbal reportedly said that surveillance cameras at the banks and ATMs in question would be able to identify anyone who was involved in the illegal gambling operations.

Although Turkey has increased its efforts in cracking down on illegal online gambling operations, several providers remain in the Turkish market.

But this has caused problems for the operators too, including GVC Holdings. The online gambling conglomerate owns Superbahis, which is an online sports betting site operating in the Turkish market.

When GVC entered a bid to acquire UK bookmaker Ladbrokes Coral, questions were raised regarding Superbahis and whether it would remain in the market given the changing regulatory environment.

Last week GVC CEO, Kenneth Alexander, said the Turkish market was “quite a small part of the group now and it’s getting smaller all the time because other markets are growing much faster.”

Alexander added that the Turkish market is “of far less relevance to us now than it was say five years ago.”

In other parts of the world, gambling regulators are cracking down on all kinds of gambling advertising, with the UK Gambling Commission successfully reducing ads on Torrent sites.