Turkish prosecutors launched an investigation into 13 casinos based in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus as part of a probe into illegal betting and money laundering. Prosecutors in Gaziantep, a southern city, ordered the confiscation of $100 million linked to suspects after an earlier investigation by the Board of Investigation on Financial Crimes (MASAK) uncovered the casinos were involved in the transfer of high amounts of foreign currency. The transfers were through the accounts of seven casino managers and the accounts of staff at 20 companies owned by the casinos. Police are now investigating money traffic of more than $5 billion between the seized accounts and suspects.
Investigators believe that the high amount of cash transferred abroad was revenues from gambling and illegal betting. The suspects had multiple accounts in seven banks based in Turkey, including Bank Asya, a lender closed by authorities due to its links to the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ).
Earlier this month, police clamped down on an illegal betting gang in Gaziantep, detaining 11 suspects.
Turkey struggles to crack down on illegal betting as a country where football is the nation's favorite sport and a way of earning income for gambling addicts. The country implemented a law last year to facilitate the seizure of revenues for illegal betting organizers, but the gangs managed to circumvent the strict monitoring of bank accounts. Authorities say they stepped up cooperation with banks to detect accounts used by gangs and betting.