Law enforcement authorities in Turkey have arrested a man suspected of heading an illegal internet gambling operation. Veysel Sahin was picked up by the police when he returned to the country to visit his ailing father. He had been on the run for six months prior to being arrested.
Sahin has been on the radar of the authorities because he is believed to be one of the kingpins of a huge gambling operation that illegally caters to the Turkish market. He is believed to have a partner in this enterprise, a British citizen known as Scott William Masterson. However, since Masterson is based in the UK, police in Turkey do not have any authority over him.
The illegal online gambling operation spanned a number of countries as well as different locations within Turkey. In fact, the police arrested almost 40 people from 20 different cities and towns in Turkey as part of this crackdown which was known as Operation Handicap. Cash worth $6 million as well as luxury cars were also seized at the same time. The police had even installed hidden cameras in various offices of the gambling outfit in order to gather sufficient evidence, and they have also managed to trace Sahin’s connection with it all.
Believed to have been hiding in Lebanon since police cracked down on his operation in February this year, Sahin was arrested in the central Turkish city of Sivas where his father stays. Sahin was charged with breaking the country’s laws. If he is convicted then he might be sentenced to 25 years in prison. He protested his arrest saying that he intended to take his father to Istanbul for treatment.
The gambling operation run by Sahin had grown to massive proportions by the time the authorities had caught on to what was going on. The police were tipped off about the large operation by a local real estate businessman whose nephew had lost thousands of dollars while gambling on the internet.
The group had accumulated a whopping $780 million in assets in Turkey alone with another $150 million in Cyprus. The group operated a number of betting sites targeted towards the Turkish market. These include Adminka, Astecbet, Betbizz, Betfigo, Betpass, Carnaval, 1xbet, Jollybet, and Redobet, In fact, the group is estimated to have earned revenues exceeding $100,000 every month.
Limited Gambling Options in Turkey
Turkey’s official policy towards gambling is to offer very limited options. These include a national lottery as well as a government run sports betting enterprise known as SporToto. The country used to have casinos but they were banned in 1998. Online casinos were also banned in 2006.
The Turkish government has decided to go after illegally run online gambling operations in order to shut them all down. In fact, it has set a two-year timeframe to achieve this. A taskforce was set up to bring this about. It comprises of officers from the country’s financial crimes agency, its bank regulation authority, the police, and communication technologies agency. The taskforce has also been invested with powers to go after gambling sites and web cafes that permit illegal gambling.
It is going to be increasingly difficult for Turks to gamble online because the government is likely to prevent banks and financial service companies from handling transactions to internet based gambling sites. The government will also target operators by confiscating their income from gambling. Any affiliate site that promotes illegal gambling sites will also be closed. Most ominously, residents of the country who visit these illegal sites will receive a text message telling them that the government is monitoring their activities.