Spotlight On Turkey's Illegal Casino Trade

In 1998, the Turkish government decided to come down heavy on gambling and after introducing the relevant legislation promptly banned all its 79 casinos from operating within the country.
Subsequently, any person then caught gambling would find themselves subjected to a 154 lira ($100) fine while the casino owner would have to pays a 500 lira ($325) penalty. However, in accordance with Turkey’s Misdemeanor Law gambling fines are ofter dealt with at the scene of the crime in much the same way as a traffic fine.
As a result, the situation has led to police officers complaining about a lack of an effective legal deterrent against gambling as they continue to launch their constant regular raids against Istanbul’s 15 or 20 big casinos .
Recounting stories from his numerous raids,  police officer Ahmet Deniz said:
“No one tells how much they play for. We collect chips. Once a customer told me, ‘You came on time, I had lost.’ Three women begged us: ‘Please, don’t take us to the station. Our husbands will kill us.’
Then when asked whether the police’s incessant raids on illegal gambling operations was impacting the gambling market, Deniz shrugged his shoulders and indicated that any effect was purely short term.
Shinning a spotlight on the lengths illegal casinos are prepared to go to hide their activities, Deniz explained:
“They have strange hiding places. Big roulette tables are movable. Two persons can easily hide a table, or roulette tables are suddenly transformed into dinner tables. One time, we realized a closet was actually a revolving door and they were hiding inside during raids. It has a handle in the cloakroom; when you pull the door is opened. We step in firmly to see if the floor is hollow. Likewise, we check the walls.”
So far, apparently so many illegal roulette tables worth $15,000 a piece have been confiscated in Istanbul that many are now used by police as coffee tables in in the officers’ rooms. In the meantime, however, the illegal gambling market in Turkey seems set to continue flourishing.

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