The head of the association is Anıl Uzun, who has Turkish as well as British citizenship. He and 74 other participants are now threatened with imprisonment between four and eleven years for operating illegal sports betting and money laundering.
Almost all forms of gambling are completely prohibited in Turkey. Only the state sports betting provider IDDAA and the national lottery Millî Piyango İdaresi are allowed to offer sports betting or lottery games. Land based casinos have been officially banned since January 2017. Online gambling has been illegal since 2007.
A highly complex money laundering network
According to the Turkish daily BursaHakimiyet [page in Turkish], the members of the gang are said to have networked via the anonymous chat platform “Slack”. There they could have communicated with aliases and organized anonymously across the country.
It is not specified via which illegal sports betting websites the actual bets were received. However, funds were said to have been transferred via the online payment service provider “Jeton”.
The funds were received in the accounts of participating “third parties”, about which no further details are also available. The international money transfer service “Loomis” was then hired to transport the funds.
Finally, the money had reached the sham companies “Artuklu” and “Çakmakçı”, where they were then washed.
Endless fight against illegal gambling
Illegal gambling seems to be deeply rooted in Turkish society. The more the Turkish government illegalizes gambling, the more creative people who still want to organize it seem to be.
The Turkish authorities have carried out more raids in the past two years. Again and again there were mass arrests and harsh court decisions against those involved.
Just a few weeks ago, the Turkish government passed some legislative changes that allow the authorities to deal more effectively with illegal online gambling websites.
Sometimes only online casinos could be blocked. Now the network operators may or should also block online sports betting offers that are not part of IDDAA.
It remains to be seen whether the government will be able to continue to contain gambling in this way. However, it seems certain that Turkish citizens like to gamble as much as people from other countries.