Turkey is not the most ideal country for gamblers due to increasingly strict laws that have made it difficult to find legitimate casino sites. We do have a few Turkish online casinos to recommend, but it would be a good idea to read this article in full before you play. Turkey is one of the few countries in which individual gamblers can be fined for visiting online casinos.
Of course, prohibitions rarely work out in the real world. The demand for real money casino games in Turkey is great enough that some sites headquartered in other locations readily accept Turkish players. The following gambling websites are all “Turkey-friendly.”
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Most forms of gambling, both online and live, are outlawed in Turkey. Citizens can participate in the national lottery and sports betting, but only at approved outlets. Milli Piyango serves as the state-run lottery service while IDDAA operates sports betting shops and a website for Turkish gamblers. Both of those are government-run monopolies; private gambling businesses are outlawed.
Unauthorized online gambling remains a thorny issue today. The government has taken numerous steps to prevent access to offshore casino sites and even reserves the power to issue hefty fines to people caught playing at such sites. We do not know of any cases to date in which a player has actually been charged under the law, but as we know, things can change quickly in Turkey.
The Law and Online Casinos in Turkey
Turkey was a fairly pro-gambling nation for a brief-period in the 1990s. Horse racing betting was legalized in 1984, physical casinos were legalized in 1990 and a national lottery was established in 1993. In retrospect, the years between 1984 and 1993 can be considered the high point of gambling in Turkey.
Things have since take a turn for the worse as authorities have increasingly clamped down on most forms of gambling. The government outlawed physical casinos with little warning in 1996 and effectively put an end to traditional casino gambling.
Turkey’s $1 billion casino industry fought the order and the president even vetoed the law, but parliament overrode the veto on the argument that organized crime was deeply embedded in the casino industry. The ban went into effect in 1998, leaving roughly 20,000 people unemployed.
Online gambling remained under the radar for some time, but eventually online casino sites would also come under fire. That occurred in 2006 when the government announced new measures to clamp down on unauthorized online gambling. The prohibition of Turkish casino sites was strengthened by additional laws that now make it illegal for operators, players and payment processors alike to participate in or assist with online gambling.
In most other countries where online casinos are prohibited, the laws target only those who actually operate casino sites. This is not the case in Turkey. Laws enacted by parliament in 2013 strengthened the penalties for everyone and gave the government greater authority to take on illegal online gambling.
Individual gamblers in Turkey now face some of the harshest penalties found anywhere in the world for simply placing bets as mere players. Under these laws, anyone caught placing illegal bets online can be find anywhere from 100,000 to 500,000 Turkish Liras.
Those same laws also give greater powers and responsibilities to the Turkish Banking Regulation and Supervision Agency and the Telecommunication Communications Agency. Financial institutions are now prohibited from processing financial transactions for unauthorized gambling sites, with potential prison sentences for individuals who are found in violation. Likewise, those who publish advertisements for illegal online gambling also face up to three years’ imprisonment.
The Telecommunication Communications Agency is also responsible for blocking access to websites that bill themselves as Turkish casino sites. A 2014 report from CalvinAyre.com found that the Agency had blocked access to 110 gambling sites over the previous five years.
How to Fund Your Casino Account
With Turkish financial institutions under orders to block transactions to online casinos, funding your account may prove troublesome. One of the best new ways to get around this issue is to use Bitcoin. A growing number of casino sites are beginning to accept Bitcoin as both a deposit and withdrawal method.
If you’re not familiar with Bitcoin, you can read all about it here. In short, Bitcoin is a virtual currency that holds real-world value. It is especially popular in countries that attempt to control where and how money is used (such as Turkey with online casinos).
Once you have a basic understanding of Bitcoin, it is easy to convert the Turkish Lira to Bitcoins and then back again. Transactions are processed nearly instantly and the currency has so far held its value fairly well. If you find yourself unable to deposit via traditional means, Bitcoin is worth a serious look.
Legal Online Gambling in Turkey
The one form of online betting not outlawed in Turkey is sports betting, which is controlled by the government-backed monopoly provider IDDAA. IDDAA.com is the only expressly legal gambling website of any kind in turkey. It only deals with sports betting, but its coverage of sports events is actually quite thorough.
However, IDDAA does not offer casino games of any type. This website is purely for sports betting and is the only truly legal option for Turkish gamblers. Its status as a government-approved monopoly has made it quite a successful business in Turkey.
IDDAA is powered by Intralot, which is itself an international gaming company that does things like partner with governments to run online casino sites and sportsbooks. According to Intralot, IDDAA is extremely well-established in Turkey with upwards of 99% of the population being familiar with the IDDAA brand.
The success of IDDAA marketing combined with the government’s strict stance against unauthorized gambling have been successful in funneling most sports enthusiasts to Turkey’s one legal sportsbook. Online casino games remain unreachable to the average citizen, however, and a small handful of offshore gambling sites continue to accept Turkish customers to this day.
Wes Burns co-founded OnlineCasinoSites.com with a mission to help gamblers understand and navigate the regulated online casino market in all countries around the world. Wes is a respected gambling journalist, working in the industry since 2008.