Turkey assault of gaming to hurt GVC

BBi turkey
People carry a huge Turkish flag during a rally to mark the end of the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu's 25-day long protest, dubbed "Justice March", against the detention of the party's lawmaker Enis Berberoglu, in Istanbul, Turkey July 9, 2017. REUTERS/Osman Orsal
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Turkey is amending its gaming laws, taking a far tougher stance on unlicensed operators, in a move that could have significant consequences for online operator GVC Holdings.


President Erdogan’s ramped-up approach includes internet monitoring, curbs on payments services – including cryptocurrencies – and a ban of gambling advertising.

At the same time, new provisions to impose fines – even prison sentences – are to be awarded to the state regulator for those found breaching the new rules.

The country’s internet cafes,which are hugely popular across Turkey, will also now be outlawed. The anti-gambling campaign is to be led by the special prosecutor and with the support of Turkey’s financial crimes unit banking regulation agency and communication technologies authority.

Together they aim to apply the pressure for at least two years, with the aim of purging illicit operators. Since casinos were outlawed in Turkey in 1998 and online casinos in 2006, legal gaming has been limited to only the national lottery and the state-run sports betting monopoly, SporToto.

However, analysts have suggested this latest bout of measures are more serious than previous crackdowns, and likely tied to Erdogan’s rising confidence in power.

GVC Holdings remains acutely exposed to the changes, having entered the Turkish market in 2013 with its acquisition of online betting firm, Sportingbet, which operated in the country via a partnership agreement with the Superbahis brand. GVC made the not insignificant sum of E100m in Turkey last year alone – almost 12 percent of its annual revenues.

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