Turkey launches tender to open sports gambling industry

Turkey is looking to take its sports gambling operations to the next level. According to a report by the country’s Official Gazette, it has launched a tender that looks to find businesses to operate a centralized sports gambling system and risk management office for both fixed odds and mutual betting. Tenders can be submitted until February 11.

The tender comes less than a year after the country launched a major crackdown on gambling ahead of soccer’s World Cup last year. That crackdown saw “thousands” of alleged gambling houses raided across Turkey and resulted in a number of businesses being shut down by police. In Ankara, the country’s capital, 64 raids were conducted, leading to the arrest of 39 individuals.

Gambling is illegal in Turkey, except for its Milli Piyango lottery and SportToto sports gambling products. Both are operated by the state. Despite the ban, gamblers always find a way and reportedly wager around $11.4 billion annual through online gambling sites.

There was a time that gambling was an accepted practice in the Muslim country. However, things began to change when it banned casinos in 1998. Eight years later, online gambling operators not run by the state were also banned, even though most have found ways to work around the restrictions. The country’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has repeatedly asserted his distaste for the activity (even though he allows state-backed gambling) and has led efforts to ensure both land-based and online gambling does not find a footing.

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