Gambling in Turkey is a highly regulated activity, with land-based casinos and online iGaming businesses and participation both being completely banned. The only exceptions to this mandate are the state-run lottery, called “Milli Piyango”, and the state-owned sports betting company, the IDDAA. So, with all this in mind, what are the options for Turkish investors and entrepreneurs wanting to enter the iGaming space and target international players? Is it even possible? We are pleased to tell you that it is, however, you have to understand all of the steps and be prepared to take some risks in order to create a successful iGaming business. Read on to see what we suggest.
Turkish gambling market overview
The main argument from the government against allowing commercial gambling enterprises to operate within Turkey is specifically to prevent money laundering. This issue had been a problem historically when land-based casinos were still legal in Turkey up until 1998 when they were banned.
So, whilst the nation has disallowed legal avenues for iGaming and gambling to exist, these measures have certainly not quelled Turkey’s appetite for it. For example, in 2009 it was estimated that 25% of Swedish gambling firm Betsson's revenues came exclusively from Turkish players. So even with government protocols in place to crack-down on online gambling, it’s not dissuading Turkish players from participating.
Anyway, this is a moot point essentially, and we suggest that you don’t focus on creating a business aimed at Turkish players because of the legal issues involved; it’s just better to be aware of the situation than not.
As mentioned, it’s clear that creating a legal online casino or iGaming business in Turkey aimed at Turkish players is impossible. However, if you are able to think ‘outside of the box’ then you will soon realize that as a Turkish entrepreneur or investor, you are still legally allowed to create an international business using a gaming license from another country.
It’s better to not worry about whether Turkish citizens can participate or not at this stage, as your focus should be upon targeting international players who reside in nations where online gambling is completely legal. In fact, we would recommend that you don’t specifically focus on Turkish players at all, because the Turkish authorities could penalize both you and the players that use it in Turkey.
Now that you understand the landscape for gambling and iGaming in Turkey, we can move on more important matters, such as how you, as a Turkish citizen, can legally and effectively create an international online gambling business.
Six steps for starting an online casino business as a Turkish investor
So, now you are beginning to consider the international possibilities for your business, we can discuss a step-by-step framework for creating one. Before we go over the steps, we want to underline that this entire process requires: patience, enthusiasm, risk, business acumen, and of course, a substantial financial commitment.
If you are willing to apply all of this then you will certainly be well on your way to creating a successful business. We’ll lay out the steps briefly below and then go over them in more detail afterwards:
1. Obtain a gambling license
There are a plethora of gambling licenses available worldwide. Some of the most popular regions to obtain gambling licenses for Turkish investors include: Curacao, Malta, Isle of Man, Alderney, Gibraltar, Kahnawake, Belize, etc.
The costs, locations, application processes, length of licensing period, types of gambling activity, and areas that these licenses cover are all vastly different from one another, which is why a lot of research is involved. One thing that gambling licenses do have in common is that they require in-depth explanations regarding their pros, cons, and application process.
Out of the six steps we have listed here, the gambling license application itself is probably the most important and most in-depth discussion.
Which jurisdiction should I get a gambling license in?
The jurisdiction you choose will be based on the pros and cons of the license that is specific to your business. To help you decide, we have covered many various locations’ licenses in-depth on our website, which we encourage to spend some time researching. You can see more locations by clicking here.
In particular, we often advise Turkish investors to obtain the Curacao license above all others as it is fairly easy to obtain, is cheaper than other licenses, and it covers a wide range of countries where you can operate in.
How much do gambling licenses cost?
Unfortunately, there’s no straight answer to this question. Licenses are all different and encapsulate a lot of different conditions, clauses, and other layers of payment.
The length of time licenses cover can often vary too. For example, most licenses are valid for just 1 year, however, licenses from Gibraltar last for 5 years.
The renewal prices of licenses can also vary enormously too. Some jurisdictions will want to know your annualized net gaming yield before offering you a renewal.
There’s also the application processing time to think about too. Some jurisdictions, such as The United Kingdom, can take up to 16 weeks to process. Other jurisdictions will require a nonrefundable deposit payment upfront before they process your application (regardless if you are approved or not). Some jurisdictions can even offer you a temporary license that you can use for a limited amount of days only, but at a much lower cost.
Some jurisdictions may seem to offer a low-cost license, however, they will also require many elements of certification, verification, and testing of your games and software. All of which will be priced individually and not included in the initial application fee.
As you can see, there is a lot to think about when calculating the prices. The best course of action is to sit down with a notepad and carefully calculate the total prices of different regions that interest you, along with their individual pros and cons too.
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Thankfully we have saved you a lot of the legwork by focusing on a variety of areas offering premium licenses. To learn more about gaming licenses in other regions, click here.
2. Register your company in the jurisdiction of the license
This step is closely related to step 1 as you will (normally) need to register your business in the same location that the license covers. For Turkish investors, the key takeaway is that you will not be registering your business in Turkey, because that is not legal nor allowed.
Much like the license itself, the specific costs and processes needed to do this are different in every location. You don’t necessarily need to reside in the country where you register your business, but being able to access it is something to carefully consider, especially when it comes to time zones and communicating with a gaming licensing authority.
3. Analyze market demands for your target audience
Research, research, research!
The more research and planning you do, the greater chance you will have of your business being a success.This means that you will need to think very carefully about your target audience, the language you use to market to them, the games that your audience prefers to play, your marketing budget, future business expansion, hiring future support teams and future members of staff. There is a lot to research across a multitude of different areas.
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With so much to think about when creating a successful online gambling business, the best advice is to not leave anything to chance. Create budgets for everything, including unforeseen expenses and areas for future growth. Most importantly, research your target audience. If you don’t understand their needs you will not be able to serve them effectively.
4. Create a brand concept and marketing strategy
This step is where you will need to apply all of your creativity and business acumen.
In some regards, this step should really be your first port of call, as you will need a business plan (including a name) before applying for the license. You will definitely need to have completed this step before you can embark on steps 5 and 6 that’s for sure.
Even if your business plan begins its life as just a few handwritten notes on a napkin, it’s important to flesh out your ideas and obviously research any potential names you come up with against any existing competition. Hiring professionals for business advice is never a bad idea either, especially when it’s a niche topic such as SEO or Social Media marketing.
5. Obtain software to create a web-based platform
Think of this step as the foundation of your online casino business, because without it, you cannot add games, PSPs, or any other kind of functionality for players. It’s just like building a house, you’re not going to get anywhere without a good foundation.
This might sound quite straightforward, however, there are a lot of factors to consider when creating any kind of website that offers online gambling, iGaming, and secure payment services. The services you offer not only need to be secure for your business, but also for the players.
Also, depending on the licensing jurisdiction you choose, your online gambling platform will also need to pass various operational tests and be certified as compliant legally. As a general rule of thumb, the better quality the gaming license is, the more stringent the certification tests will be.
6. Integrate games, payment systems (PSPs), and online support teams
It’s easy enough to understand that without games, PSPs, and online support, that your business will be going nowhere.
Choosing these services is where your prior research comes in. You will need to research your markets and choose both games and PSPs that the market appreciates and supports. If you choose a payment system that is blocked in your target region then you will be doing zero business there. The same goes for choosing games or languages that the region does not want or understand.
This may all sound quite obvious, but without researching first you could waste many months of work and funds on a project that’s going nowhere. So choose wisely and do as much research as you can. Don’t be afraid to hire professionals to support you, it’s what they’re there for.
Turkish online gambling FAQs
If it’s illegal to run a gambling business in Turkey, how can I own one as a Turkish citizen?
You need to apply for a gambling license in a different nation. You would then normally register your business in the jurisdiction that the license covers. You would then operate your business in this jurisdiction once your license is approved. This is of course for accountability purposes, however, you must research the license to see what its rules are. Another crucial aspect — you should target a different market, not Turkey.
Can you launch an online casino by yourself?
Technically-speaking, it is possible, however, you would need to already have a lot of experience and funding to be able to achieve a solo launch.
As this article has already alluded to, it’s not just about the sheer volume of work needed, it’s also about the diversity of the work required too. The range of your personal skill-set would need to be particularly vast. You need to be well-versed in license applications, have excellent business-level English, and be familiar with founding a company in order to legally create your company and be approved for a gaming license. Combined with this, you would also need extensive digital marketing knowledge in order to successfully position your product and scale it to profitable levels. Once your platform was up and running, you would then need to know about PSPs and online support to service your players. Even before your first year of business finishes, you would then need accountants and analysts to do your bookkeeping and prepare forecasts.
As you might be able to tell, it’s a big, diverse workload to take on solo. It’s not impossible, however, you would need a lot of experience in all these aforementioned areas and have a truckload of energy to make it a success. This is why we always recommend hiring experts in different fields to assist you on your journey, because it can take the pressure off.
In general, the most successful iGaming platform operations are founded by visionaries. Entrepreneurs with both excellent business acumen and well thought-out plans. People who understand how each area of a business operates and can delegate that work to individual professional experts, rather than trying to do it all by themselves.
Why do you need a gambling license to start an iGaming business?
Simply put, it’s illegal to operate without one. Your business won’t last very long and you could face huge fines, criminal proceedings, or even jail if you’re caught offering gambling services without a license. It’s just simply not worth it. Astute developers and discerning players will always want to know which license your business is operating under before doing business with you. For some, it’s a dealbreaker. So choose wisely!
I would prefer to run my online casino in Turkish language and offer it to Turkish customers. Is that legal?
Technically-speaking you can create your business in any language you like, including Turkish, however, promoting your business within Turkish borders may land you in future legal trouble. This is because online gambling is illegal for Turkish citizens residing within Turkey’s borders.
However, many big cities in Europe have large Turkish expat communities, e.g. London, Berlin, Madrid, etc. all have sizable Turkish communities. As long as you have a valid gaming license legal for these areas, then promoting your iGaming platform here would not be a problem.
What’s the most popular online casino game?
This question has no definitive answer because different regions prefer different games. As we have mentioned previously, it’s up to you to research the region you wish to target and then learn which games they prefer. It could be classic casino games, slots, or fantasy games; the point is it’s up to you to do the research!
How can Slotegrator help?
For Turkish investors and entrepreneurs, applying for a gaming license in any jurisdiction is a complicated process. Much like any legal application, the best course of action to ensure that you do not waste time or funds, is to employ the help of experts to assist you with the application, which as you should know by now is just the beginning of your journey.
There are many other stages in the long road to owning a successful iGaming business, and we are happy to provide solutions covering all aspects of the process. Rest assured, we have successfully applied for hundreds of applications in numerous jurisdictions since our founding in 2012.
As long as you have the vision for creating your own iGaming, online casino, or sports betting enterprise, then Slotegrator can help you with any stage of your journey.
Whether it’s legal expertise, software partners, marketing assistance, or overseeing the entire launch; we have proven solutions ready for you to launch a successful iGaming business.
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