Despite affectively being considered a European country, Turkey has gambling laws which belong in the Middle East or vast swathes of Asia. The country is nowhere near as liberal as its European counterparts when it comes to online gambling laws, and this has presented a problem for the country. While the state lottery is worth $1.5 billion a year, the sheer amount of revenue available from online gambling makes Turkey a lucrative market, and one many offshore operators want to get involved in. Where does this leave players in the country, then? On this page, we aim to set the record straight regarding Turkish online casinos and internet gambling laws.
Is Online Gambling Legal in Turkey?
Turkey is unquestionably one of the more relaxed Islamic states when it comes to many laws. However, gambling isn’t really one of them. Under Islam, gambling is forbidden, but religion is not the only reason Turkey has an issue with it. Turkey doesn’t like its citizens ploughing money into offshore operators and would rather they spend that money closer to home. However, with so few Turkish betting sites capable of competing with their European counterparts, Turkey has seemingly decided that if they can’t have that revenue, nobody can.
The Turkish government effectively banned online gambling in 2007, following a decade of experimentation. There is an exception to that law. The state-owned IDDAA (a sports betting company) is fully legal. In theory, the IDDAA is the only online gambling enterprise which can legally offer Turks betting opportunities. It is a monopoly where the revenue, unsurprisingly goes to the Turkish government.
One of the things which separate Turkey from other countries which have banned online gambling is that they actively punish their players if they break the law. This rather law (while not as extreme as in most other Islamic countries) has put them at loggerheads with the EU and is one of several reasons why the country has failed to join the European Union.
Turkish Online Casinos
In theory, the only Turkish online gambling site which is legal is the one run by the IDDAA. For the most part, they only really offer sports betting options, with very few actual gambling games provided for players. Unsurprisingly, this leads many Turkish players to spurn that site in favour of joining offshore casinos, sometimes to their peril.
Ordinarily, the fact that Turkish Lira is accepted, and gameplay is available in Turkish should be a good thing. However, many offshore casinos offer the same services, which sees the state-owned betting site struggle to beat its competitors.
Offshore Casino Sites for Turkish Players
Ordinarily, a country would target offshore casinos with fines for offering their services to players in Turkey illegally. However, Turkey has taken the rather drastic step of punishing its own players, instead. The Turkish Banking Regulation and Supervision Agency monitors card and bank payments to casinos. Penalties of up to £160,000 are in place if players are caught illegally gambling at offshore casinos. On top of that, bankers involved in those transactions could face prison sentences. Employees of offshore casinos could also be arrested should they decide to visit Turkey (even on holiday) if they are known to have facilitated transactions involving Turks.
The Turkish Government actively tries to block access to foreign casino sites. However, the use of a good VPN (virtual private network) will get you around those blocks. Whether you still wish to risk playing at an offshore casino is down to you. However, many thousands of Turks do, and some opt to use Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies to get around those banking blocks.
Is Anything Likely to Change in the Future?
Turkey already has harsh laws in place for any Turks who visit offshore casinos, and they are totally unwelcoming of any offshore casinos who try to offer services to nationals. In the past, Turks could use VPNs to get around the ISP (internet service provider) blocks, and many use Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies to facilitate financial transactions to and from casinos.
However, in March 2020, the Turkish government announced that it would begin checking the blockchain for any activities from Turkish players to casinos. This could, effectively, see Turks forced to use smaller, less popular cryptocurrencies to bet online. Given how hell-bent Turkey is on stopping any of its players from using any site other than the IDDAA, state-owned monopoly site, things aren’t likely to get any better at any point in the immediate future.
Top Turkish Casino Sites
If you want to get around the blocks and bans and aren’t interested in playing at the state-owned casino, then you will find a variety of casinos on this page which fit the bill. Each offers Turkish language gaming and accepts the Turkish lira currency. Using a VPN and a non-Turkish banking option are strongly advised, though.
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