Big Changes in Store for Turkey

26 April 2006

Turkey's proposed Games of Chance bill aims to significantly change the landscape for the country's gambling operators.

For starters, it finally looks like the privatization process of the Turkish National Lottery is starting to move.

Milli Piyango, established in 1939, has for years been on a short list to be privatized, but the target date has been continuously delayed.

Up to this point, Milli Piyango, a member of the European Lotteries, has been a lottery organization as well as Turkey's gambling "gambling board." But now, legislation to split the Milli Piyango authority into a game-of-chance-regulator and the National Lottery is on the way from the Ministry of Finance.

The bill would also create equal standards for taxation and chances of winning to be adhered to be Turkey's three operators, the National Lottery, Sportoto and the Jockey Club. With the new regulation, all the players will be assured that 50 percent of money wagered is allocated as prize money. (This is not currently the case with Sportoto's Iddaa product.) It is also expected that the betting tax will be leveled everywhere at 10 percent.

As of now, the taxation is as follows:

National Lottery - 13 percent
Iddaa - 3 percent
Sayisal Loto - 14 percent
Horseracing - 9 percent
Sportoto - 3 percent

The average payout to gamers, meanwhile, is 41 percent for National Lottery, 48 percent for Iddaa and 45 percent for horseracing.

The good causes of the National Lottery will be: Defense Industry Support Fund, Social Services and Society for the Protection of Children and Credit Institutions.

The National Lottery, an old fashioned bureaucratic organization relying exclusively on over-the-counter sales and canvassing, will be authorized to add Internet and telephone distribution.

The new bill still needs to go through the office of the Prime Minister, and privatization of the National Lottery won't take place by the end of the year.

Rob van der Gaast has a background in sports journalism. He worked for over seven years as the head of sports for Dutch National Radio and has developed new concepts for the TV and the gambling industry. Now he operates from Istanbul as an independent gambling research analyst. He specializes in European gambling matters and in privatizations of gambling operators. Rob has contributed to IGN since Jul 09, 2001.