Stretching from the Balkans to Anatolia, Turkey straddles the line separating Europe and Asia; it forms the border of both continents, but it’s also the place where they blend. Turkey’s location and culture might leave you confused as to whether it’s a European country or a Middle Eastern one and its gambling market needs some clearing up as well.
Turkish culture is pulled both east and west. Though it’s a secular country, with no official state religion, almost 100% of Turks are Muslim, and Istanbul is home to some of the world’s most beautiful and historic mosques. However, Turkey is also one of the most liberal Muslim countries; its diverse culture manages to balance Muslim traditions and wonderful Ottoman architecture with vibrant nightlife and a highly developed tourism sector.
The Turkish economy is based on its well developed agricultural and industrial sectors besides textiles, Turkey is also a large exporter of electronic, automotive, and petrochemical goods but it still depends on imported gas and oil, as well as foreign investment. Overall, the country has a strong economy; its credit rating in 2022 is at B+ according to Fitch Ratings, and the country’s post Covid recovery was one of the strongest in the world.
Gambling is tightly regulated in Turkey.
The Law Regarding Roulette, Pinball and Gaming Machines prohibits exactly those activities, and the Criminal Code bans both online and offline gambling, defined as “games played for a gain where profit or loss depends on chance”.
However, Turkish gambling laws allow three types of betting: sport betting, horse racing, and games of chance including lottery, numeric games, and instant-win games. All three are regulated by different authorities.
The Regulation on Supervising Games of Chance is responsible for games of chance, under Decree No. 320 regarding National Lottery Administration. Under the Law Regarding Soccer and Other Sports Betting, sports betting is governed by the Sports Betting Regulation. Horse Race Betting Regulation is accordingly responsible for horse racing.
Turkey’s licensing system is limited to state owned or state sanctioned enterprises: in 2017, licenses to organize games of chance and horse race betting were granted to the Turkish Wealth Fund, with the right to lead the industry for 49 years. The fund, in turn, gave lottery organization Sisal Şans permission to organize games of chance, and the Turkey Jockey Club permission to organize horse racing betting. The Sport Toto Organization is the only institution that has a right to organize sports betting.
Providing unlicensed online gambling services to Turkish citizens has been illegal since 2006, when online gambling was completely banned. The penalty for breaking this law varies from fines to years of imprisonment. This, however doesn’t always stop foreign operators from accepting Turkish players. The government doesn’t prosecute players, and tourists can also play.
Since lotteries, horse racing, and sports betting are the only activities organized by authorized institutions in Turkey, these types of gambling are especially popular. Turkish players like betting on sports, particularly football, and lotteries. Slots are also popular. Besides these classic verticals, live dealer games are in high demand players find them more trustworthy thanks to real interaction with the dealers.
Turkey bans all types of casinos, including offshore websites, but the execution of this law would be difficult if the authorities didn’t also block banks from conducting transactions with gambling companies. Turkish players rely on alternative payment methods to process deposits and withdrawals.
Nearly 3% of Turks own a cryptocurrency, mostly Bitcoin and Tether.
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