Turkey Shuts Down Online Gambling Websites

Turkey Shuts Down Online Gambling WebsitesThe Turkish government has announced it intends to sell its only legal sports betting organization called Spor Toto as part of a privatization bid expected to raise in excess of $10 billion. The business has generated $24 billion of revenue over the past eight years and has been described by the country’s Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan (photo) as the “most valuable financial asset” Turkey’s sport industry possesses. It is now expected to be offered to the highest bidder come June 2013.
The move would seem to be a continuation of Turkey’s overall plan to clean-up and consolidate online betting and gambling activities within the country. Brick and mortar casinos were banned from Turkey in 1996 but their services then sprang up online and a few years back the Muslim country’s National Lottery and its telecommunications authority teamed-up to combat websites operating illegally within its territory. In 2008, 56 websites were then closed, followed by 93 sites in 2009, 119 sites in 2010, 110 in 2011 and 79 websites so far this year.
The Turkish move has put pressure on international companies that still continue to operate in the country and in 2011 authorities froze the address of Sportingbet’s Turkish-focused online sports book Superbahis.com. Sportingbet was soon able to circumvent the inconvenience and as a Sportingbet statement said at the time: “The new website was up and running within the same day of the block being introduced. The block had no material financial or operational impact on the business.”
Since then, Sportingbet decided to divest away from riskier grey market regions, such as Turkey, and later that year sold its Turkish business for €142.5m ($197.6m).

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