The evolution of the gambling industry in the Republic of Turkey is characterized by sweeping changes, harsh bans, and multiple controversies. The local gambling has a long and complicated history.
In the early 80s of the 20th century (in 1983 to be exact), the government decided to legalize bars, restaurants, and other venues that provided casino games in Turkish and other gaming entertainments to the public. Following that decree, Turkey saw a soar in the number of land-based operators and gaming websites. Gambling entertainments grew very popular among both locals and international tourists.
Turkey’s largest cities, including Antalya, Ankara, Izmir, and Istanbul, welcomed more than 80 land-based venues, while local companies launched their first gaming websites.
In 1997, the Republic of Turkey topped the rankings by its gambling income, outstripping many European states. All in all, local players spent more than 14 billion dollars on stakes. This is way more than European citizens spend on that kind of hobby.
Despite casinos being a big success among locals and tourists alike, in August the Parliament of the Republic of Turkey voted to ban the gambling industry in the country. The number of Turkish casino sites was slashed. Over 20 thousand people involved in the industry lost their jobs, and therefore their main source of income.
Such drastic measures by the Parliament caused a great public stir. The ban led to a casino boom in Northern Cyprus. Now this self-declared state features about twenty venues that serve international tourists from all over the globe. Citizens of the Republic of Turkey are not allowed to visit gaming establishments in Northern Cyprus.
Today, gamblers enjoy the lottery Milli Piyango, parimutuel betting on sports, and horse racing betting. According to the mayor of the city of Mersin, these entertainments are not enough and the government needs to review its gaming policy. The politician shared the idea to open an international entertainment center for both tourists and Turkish citizens. He even proposed the ideal location to build the center – an ancient seaside fortress in the district of Erdemli. Now the project is under consideration by the Ministry of Culture and tourist centers.