Turkey Places Restrictions on ATM Withdrawals as Part of Illegal Gambling Crackdown

Restrictions on ATM withdrawals and money transfers will be introduced in Turkey as part of the country’s efforts to combat illegal gambling, Azerbaijani news outlet Trend reported citing information from the Turkish Banking Regulation and Supervision Agency – Bankacılık Düzenleme ve Denetleme Kurumu (BDDK).

Individuals who tend to withdraw the maximum amount of money allowed per day from ATMs will have their bank accounts under scrutiny, the regulatory body has revealed. A BDDK spokesperson has explained that there are more than 5 million people in Turkey who engage in illegal gambling activities and they usually withdraw money from ATMs to gamble.

Back in July, the Turkish government announced that it would launch an illegal gambling clampdown in a bid to curb the illegal provision of gambling services in the country and the social ills arising from this. Speaking of the legality of gambling, activities of this type are prohibited under Turkish laws with very few legal exceptions.

It can be said that state-run lotteries and online gaming websites as well as certain forms of sports betting, with these too being run by the state, are the only gambling services that are allowed within the country’s borders. Here it is interesting to note that Turkey had a very profitable casino industry, but land-based casinos were eventually banned due to concerns that these were targeted by criminals for money laundering.

Ongoing Crackdown

Despite the existing prohibitions on most types of gambling, the country has been nurturing a thriving unregulated gambling industry. As mentioned above, news emerged this summer that the Turkish government would embark on a two-year purging mission in hopes to restrict the reach and scope of illegal gambling operations, including ones targeting players via the Internet.

Lawmakers pointed out that several government agencies would participate in the crackdown and that illegal gambling would be targeted at several government levels for its effective minimization.

The Turkish Ministries of the Interior and of Justice were tasked with developing a two-year strategy for fighting illegal gambling services. The nation’s Police and Revenues Departments also joined the anti-gambling campaign. It was further revealed that a special unit would be assembled to monitor for any breaches of the country’s regulations.

Prior to the official launch of the Turkish government’s two-year strategy against illegal gambling, Turkish police carried out massive raids in more than 6,000 restaurants and cafés around the country in a bid to discover illegal gambling operations.

The announcement about Turkey cracking down on unauthorized gambling drove away international operators, including GVC Holdings, which decided to dispose of its Turkish business. Earlier this month, the Isle of Man-based online gambling group sold its Turkish assets to Malta-based Ropso Malta Ltd. for a total of €150 million. GVC revealed that it would use the money to fund future merger and acquisition deals.

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