Online casinos have conquered the world, and Turkey is no exception. It has been determined that approximately $ 2 million is spent on online gambling through credit card transactions in Turkey. Turkish authorities, however, were not happy with the spread of online gambling in the country and the Government decided to stop its citizens from accessing and playing on online gambling sites.
Accordingly, the Administrative Regulation prepared by the Turkish National Lottery Administration on the Prohibition of Organizing and Marketing Online Gambling ("Regulation") entered into force on 14 March 2006. Under Article 1 of the Regulation, the aim of the Regulation is to prohibit the organization and marketing of games of chance in virtual media such as computers, internet, interactive TV, mobile phone and similar information environments. The advertising of interactive gambling services is also prohibited under Article 5 of the Regulation.
The purpose of the Regulation is not only to prohibit Turkey-based interactive gambling services being provided to customers in Turkey but also to prevent the ability of people resident in Turkey to access online gambling sites located overseas. In this context, illegal gambling activities will be followed-up and inspected by the Presidency of the Department of Games of Chance.
Pursuant to Article 6 of the Regulation, the Presidency of the Department of Games of Chance will prepare examination reports concerning real persons or legal entities that are domiciled in Turkey or in a foreign country and organizing or marketing gambling in virtual media. The report will include the addresses of the virtual media and all related information regarding such entities in detail. Based on this report, the Department of Law of the National Lottery Administration will apply to the authorized court for cessation of the access provided by internet service providers (ISP) to these websites and seek punishment of the illegal acts. In the event this request is upheld by the court, the Legal Department of the National Lottery Administration will notify the decision to the Telecommunication Authority in order to provide the enforcement of the legal order.
Before this Regulation came into force, no specific law related to online gambling in Turkey existed. As a result, an increasing rate of online gambling occurred in Turkey over the past few years. Although the National Lottery’s efforts are expected to decrease online gambling, there are certain factors that may frustrate attempts to prohibit online gambling. For instance, internet technology renders prohibition practically futile. The internet makes it easier to encrypt messages, to change addresses, and to send and receive messages anonymously. In contrast to the quasi-public and monolithic postal system, the internet relies on thousands of separate and wholly owned private service providers to carry out its deliveries. Providers may simply refuse to cooperate by claiming that it is impossible to discriminate between illicit gaming information and other internet traffic.
In addition, principles of national sovereignty will prevent Turkey from forcing other countries to enforce a ban on online gambling. Turkish authorities already admitted that they cannot stop overseas gaming operations because Turkey does not have jurisdiction over the people abroad who are dealing with online gambling. Consequently, both practical and legal barriers prevent any domestic ban on online gambling from having international effect.
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