Turkish authorities are not playing games when it comes to pursuing and punishing those in violation of the country’s online gaming laws.
According to the Turkish newspaper Zaman, officials have put together a list of 3,500 people who have allegedly taken part in online gambling. Those who are found guilty will be fine 100 Turkey New Lira – approximately the equivalent of $84 – for each game played online. The newspaper notes that the number of games played exceeds 46,000.
On February 28, 2007, Turkey’s government passed a law that forbids online gambling offered by unauthorized company, the title of which is “Law for amending certain articles of the law on bookmaking organization concerning football contests.” While the title seems to indicate that bookmaking is targeted, the wording of the law itself is broad and points to “anyone involved in enabling access, promotion or operation of sites offering e-gaming products to Turkish nationals.”
Penalties for breaking the law range from excessive fines to imprisonment of between two and five years. The current investigation by officials and the naming of 3,500 online gamblers being sought for fines may be the first step in making the point that they are serious about enforcing the law.
One gaming company, IDDAA owned by Inteltek A.S., is partially owned by the state and, therefore, the only business that can legally offer online gaming services to Turkish citizens.
Many online sites have regretfully withdrawn from the Turkish online gaming market since the passage of the law, while others like Bwin are asking the European Union (EU) to pressure Turkey to allow free trade – including online gambling – among member states.