As the Turkish government is preparing to lease out the National Lottery (Milli Piyango) operator into private hands for a 10 year period, it is also making efforts to eradicate foreign online competition.
Being the owner of SporToto (the only lawful means to bet on sports in Turkey) a privatization deal could be highly profitable for any investor. Nevertheless, recent and planned restrictions on gambling make many prospects uneasy about putting their money there.
The latest reports out of Ankara indicate that lawmakers are determined to alter Turkish gambling laws by introducing tougher penalties against players and organizers, as well as further technical measures against sites.
Although online gambling has been banned by law and hundreds of Turkish internet casino and bookies have been shut down over the past couple of years, most punters simply shifted their activities to foreign sites.
The proposed law aims to end the practice once and for all.
While previous sanctions did not target players, the new proposal suggests horrific fines of 100,000 to 500,000 Turkish Liras (USD 55K-280K) for anyone caught betting on unauthorized sites. Any intermediaries who facilitate or solicit such participation in foreign sports betting would go to jail for several years, without the possibility of postponement.
Banks will also face fines if they execute transfers and card payments that fund gambling.
On the technical side, the Telecommunication Communications Agency will be tasked with creating a way to block access to disallowed foreign sites.
Although the Turkish administration is determined to limit the local population’s wagering to a few strictly controlled channels, cutting them off from online or offline casinos and foreign sportsbooks, it still allows casinos to operate on occupied Northern Cypriot territories.