Turkey the next to ban foreign gambling firms?

Rumors of an impending online gambling ban in Turkey have been in circulation for months, but Swedish online gaming firm Betsson is hedging its bets the law is about to drop.

In a press release dated today, the Stockholm-based Betsson indicated, as they have previously, that Turkey is set to introduce legislation against online gaming.

The proposed legislation they say, however, is to protect a partially state-owned gaming company which, according to their legal experts, is a violation of Turkey's existing agreement with the European Union.

The Turkish market accounts for about 20% of Betsson's total revenue but they say the law won't apply to their local partner, so they can continue to service the Turkish market.

"We hope the legislation can be positive to us," says Pontus Lindwall, CEO of Betsson. "Protectionistic legislation has shown to be of our advantage, and I believe it is applicable to this case as well... Gaming will not be threatened by individual countries' actions."

Virtual gambling has supposedly reached unprecedented rates in Turkey, with reports saying 400,000 people bet online on overseas Web sites, creating a billion dollar black market.

Turkey has indicated plans to impose sentences of two to five years imprisonment and fines to punish those caught betting illegally.

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