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Betting in Turkey

Published on: 08/08/2016

The Republic of Turkey is located to the East of the Mediterranean Sea, connecting the continents of Asia and Europe. The country shares borders with Iran, Iraq, Syria, Greece, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Cyprus and Bulgaria. Turkey’s population is approximately 74 million, with the majority of people being of the Muslim faith - however, the country has no official religion. Turkish is the national language and the Lira is the national currency.

The region was once the centre of the Ottoman Empire but in 1923, Turkey announced itself as a Republic. Later, in 1945, it joined the United Nations and then became a member of NATO (1952). Between 1960 until 1997, the country saw a succession of Military revolutions before becoming politically settled. Turkey became a member of the European Union in 2005.

Turkey does not have an official state religion, so the Koran has no bearing on the nation’s gambling laws. In the early 1980s, casino wagering became a legal activity across the land. However, the Turks themselves were banned from participating within the gaming halls. Eventually, by the mid-90s, the ban was scrapped and citizens were allowed to enjoy the casinos. In 1997, the Islamic Welfare Party was running the nation and they enforced a new law which resulted in all of the casinos being closed down. To this day, jurisdictions on gambling are continually changing. These days, there are only a couple of Turkish casinos under official licence - both situated on the Northern coast of Cyprus, in Girne.

Turkey has a state lottery, which began in 1939. The lottery is known as Piyango, and today there are thousands of lotto ticket distributors located throughout the country. The lottery revenues were historically put towards the National Air Force, until a new regulation was introduced that saw the proceeds fund all areas of the defence industry.

Turkey’s national sports lottery is known as Sportloto and generates huge revenues each year. The Turkish National Lottery Administration oversees all of the lottery games, such as instant-win tickets, as well as the regular lotto game products. Horse racing continues to survive in Turkey. In 1952, The Turkish Jockey Club was approved as a non-profit operation by the government. A horse track was built in Ankara which held 20 racing events annually - however, the business was relocated to Istanbul in 1986.

Trackside horse race betting has flourished. Cash profits reached a staggering €500 million in 2010. Half of the money went back to the bettors and just over a quarter went to the government. In Turkey, horse breeding is a serious matter - their stock consists of Pure Arabs and Thoroughbreds, and the nation boasts over 800 stallions and more than 7,000 mares. Gambling facilities such as bingo halls, slot machines, poker rooms and sports betting shops are all illegal in Turkey. Laws are in place banning the transfer of moneys from virtual casinos, as well as regulations to prohibit the Turkish people from using internet gambling web sites. . The steps taken have worked on some levels, for example NETeller have ceased to trade with Turkish citizens. Nevertheless, hundreds of foreign internet gambling companies still welcome play from residents with Turkish addresses. At least 20 of these also provide information in the Turkish Language.