Despite unforgiving and rather inflexible gambling laws in Turkey, locals enjoy everything from underground casinos and unofficial lotteries to a very broad assortment of mostly-legal online gambling options. The reason for the discrepancy appears to be a generally relaxed attitude towards gambling on the part of the Turkish public. While officials generally do not share this attitude, and they work hard to keep gambling under wraps, they can’t seem to keep up with the efforts of Turkish gambling operators.
According to Turkish gambling laws, all gambling in the country is ostensibly controlled by the state. A group called Milli Piyango runs local lotteries, while Iddaa runs local sports betting operations. The latter also outsources its products to other vendors who in turn run online sportsbooks in Turkey. While the selection of official gambling services is fairly broad, it pales in comparison to the country’s underground gambling industry.
For example, casino gambling in Turkey is not allowed, but unlicensed gambling halls can be found throughout Ankara, tucked away in covert corners. The unlicensed sports betting industry is even stronger. Both, however, hardly compare to the variety of online gambling sites in Turkey.
While few online gambling sites actually operate from within Turkey, there are a lot of internet casinos and other gambling offerings that are run from other countries, targeting Turkish players from abroad. These sites are popular with local players because they often provide more competitive odds and bigger payouts than local gambling operations. Authorities, on the other hand, despise them – they take business away from local vendors, which in turn means lost revenue for the Turkish government.
Turkey’s war on internet gambling has taken many fronts – they have tried blocking websites, stopping banks from processing payments, and raiding organizers to shut down sites that are within their jurisdiction. None have been effective, and internet gambling in Turkey rages on, growing more popular every year.