The country of Turkey has announced that it will privatize all games of chance, allowing for various horse and sports betting within its borders.
The announcement was made by Prime Minister Ahmet Davuloglu, who said that the Turkish Finance Ministry will make the move. It is expected that the move will generate up to $10 billion in tax revenue for the country.
The privatization of the betting industry comes a few months after Turkey privatized its national lottery, awarding a ten year contract to Net Şans-Hitay.
The decision is not without controversy though, as several groups have voiced religious opposition to such a move. One example of this is the conservative newspaper the Milli Gazete, which published and editorial in which it said, “We are faced with the reality of gambling gripping Turkey in the guise of games of chance. The government intends to privatize the games of chance to wash off its hands. This would amount to saying, ‘We don’t do it as a state, but you go ahead with the private sector.’ People will be further encouraged through a series of new games and television ads."
Former head of Turkey's Religious Affairs Directorate Mehmet Nuri Yilmaz added, “It’s all the same when the private sector operates them. Nothing changes. It’s forbidden. They privatize everything, but even then the government still benefits from the games of chance. It makes no difference if they are run by the government or privatized, they are equally illegitimate.”
“The state doesn’t care what is legitimate and illegitimate, Yilmaz reasserted. “It is after the money, no matter where it comes from.”
There are currently more than 20 million Turkish citizens who play online games, and it is expected that the online betting market could be quite substantial.
Casino Listings will update this story as more developments arise.