Turkey’s Banking Regulator Restricts Mobile Transactions as Part of Gambling Crackdown

Turkey’s Banking Regulator Restricts Mobile Transactions as Part of Gambling Crackdown

Turkey’s Banking Regulation and Supervision Agency – Bankacılık Düzenleme ve Denetleme Kurumu (BDDK) – has taken additional measures against the illegal provision of gambling services in the country, local news outlet Hurriyet Daily News reported on Thursday.

The regulator placed a limit on the maximum amount of money an individual can transfer to mobile phone numbers per day to just TRY500 (approximately $129). The Hurriyet pointed out that transactions of this kind are frequently preferred over bank account transfers.

Under the new rules introduced by the BDDK, senders will be required to present their ID numbers in order to be able to complete the transactions. What is more, individuals will be limited to just two mobile transfers per day. Passwords that are sent to receivers in order to be able to collect their money will be valid throughout a single day.

As mentioned above, the newly introduced measures come as part of Turkey’s crackdown on illegal gambling. Aside from the BDDK, the Banking Association of Turkey (TBB) and the Financial Crime Investigation Board (MASAK) are also participating in the initiative against unauthorized gaming and betting operations.

The three institutions introduced this past spring a new system for collecting more extensive data and for tracking any suspicious transactions.

Bank accounts linked to illegal gambling websites were previously blocked by MASAK, but it was understood that gambling operators were using mobile transactions to circumvent existing rules.

Is Gambling Legal in Turkey?

Generally speaking, gambling is illegal in Turkey with very few exceptions. State-run lotteries, online gaming websites, and sports betting are the gambling products allowed within the country’s borders. Foreign operators and all operations provided by operators that have no link with the state are considered illegal.

Here it is also interesting to note that Turkey had once had quite a profitable land-based casino industry, but facilities of this type were later on banned due to growing money laundering concerns.

Earlier this year, the government, together with the above-mentioned three institutions and related agencies, introduced a two-year plan for combating illegal gambling. As part of the initiative, unauthorized gaming and betting operations will be targeted at several government levels in order to be minimized effectively.

Local media reported late last month that the BDDK had also introduced restrictions on ATM withdrawals as part of the illegal gambling clampdown. Under the newly implemented measures, individuals who withdraw the maximum allowed amounts from ATMs will have their bank accounts scrutinized from the responsible government agencies.

BDDK pointed out that the move was undertaken out of concerns that individuals who withdraw larger amounts of money and do that frequently could be engaging in gambling activities provided by unregulated operators.

Another manifestation of the government’s strategy to purge the country from illegal gambling operations was the recent raid of more than 6,000 cafés and restaurants that were believed to be conducting such activities.