Turkey’s gambling crackdown targets mobile money transfers


turkey-online-gambling-crackdown-mobile-money-transfersTurkey’s crackdown against unauthorized online gambling ratcheted up another notch after the national banking regulator announced new curbs on mobile money transfers.

Late last month, Turkish media reported that the Banking Regulation and Supervision Agency (BDDK) was prepping new restrictions on money transfers and ATM transactions in order to combat unauthorized online gambling activity, which studies have shown accounts for over 10% of all online commerce in the country.

On Thursday, Turkish media outlet Hurriyet offered specifics on the BDDK’s plans, including a new daily maximum of TRY 500 (US $128) on transfer orders to mobile phone numbers.

The BDDK is also restricting Turkey’s mobile users to two financial transactions per day, while requiring senders to list their ID numbers and putting a 24-hour window in which passwords sent to transfer recipients will remain valid.

This mobile method of moving money on and off internationally licensed online gambling sites has proven popular since the Financial Crime Investigation Board (MASAK) began closing bank accounts linked to these sites and the BDDK ordered the Banking Association of Turkey (TBB) to monitor accounts for suspiciously high transaction volume.

Turkish authorities recently imposed new restrictions on ATM use, based on the government’s conclusion that unauthorized betting operators had enlisted cash-poor cab drivers to conduct gambling-related transactions via the machines along the drivers’ daily routes.

In July, Turkey’s government announced a two-year campaign to eradicate Turkish-facing internationally licensed gambling sites that offer a more competitive product than the state-run Spor Toto (sports betting) and Milli Piyango (lottery) businesses.

Earlier this week, Turkey’s Directorate of Religious Affairs issued a new fatwa slamming all forms of gambling as forbidden under Islamic law due to games of chance being “based on one of the sides winning and the other losing.”

It’s worth saying again that the recent decision by UK-listed online gambling operator GVC Holdings to divest itself of its Turkish-facing online business is looking smarter and smarter every day.