Remarkable Topics of Recent Times: Betting and Games of Chance on Sports Competitions


Betting and games of chance are subjects authorized by the administration in the legislation of many countries. This is due to the potential for encountering situations that may interfere with the sovereignty of countries, such as money laundering and terrorist financing through the income obtained from betting and games of chance. Additionally, individuals' particular interests in horse racing or sports make them more susceptible to exploitation. Therefore, Turkish law also imposes strict regulations on betting and gambling activities conducted by the relevant administrations.

Under Turkish law, the authority to organize and conduct lotteries, numerical lotto, instant win, and similar games, as well as to supervise games of chance and enterprises, and to authorize and supervise the organization and conduct of all kinds of non-cash lotteries, is regulated under national lottery legislation. In this context, the primary legislation to be considered for any narrative involving elements of chance, luck, prediction, or lottery that does not fall under specific regulations would be the national lottery legislation.

Additionally, betting, games of chance, and similar games based on sports competitions are entrusted to the authority of a separate administration under Turkish law. In this context, under Turkish law, the authority to supervise and regulate sports competitions, especially games of chance and betting, is regulated in the sports legislation (Sports Legislation) of the Ministry of Youth and Sports. Pursuant to Presidential Decree No. 4 on the Organization of Institutions and Organizations Affiliated, Related and Associated with Ministries and Other Institutions and Organizations (Decree No. 4), the authority to regulate, supervise, conduct necessary examinations, carry out activities, and take measures for sports-based betting and games of chance on all kinds of sports competitions held in Turkey and abroad belongs to the Spor Toto Organization (Spor Toto), which is a legal entity under the Ministry of Youth and Sports.

Pursuant to Decree No. 4, Spor Toto is authorized to supervise, have supervised, authorize, and make decisions regarding "all kinds of betting and games of chance" related to sports competitions.

According to the Sports Legislation, there are currently two main types of betting on sporting events, regardless of whether they are organized domestically or internationally, which are directly regulated under Turkish law and conducted through authorization or tender procedures: "mutual betting" and "fixed odds betting." The relevant bets vary in terms of how winnings are generated and distributed. Accordingly,

- "Mutual betting games" are betting games based on predicting the results of domestic and international sports competitions. In these games, a predetermined percentage of the winnings is shared among the participants who correctly predict the outcome.

- "Fixed odds betting games" involve predicting the results or events of sports competitions held in Turkey and abroad. Participants who make correct predictions receive bonuses with predetermined betting odds.

When both types of bets are considered under the Sports Legislation, it becomes evident that to participate in the bet, an initial cash amount is required, and cash prizes can be obtained in varying amounts based on the accuracy of predictions. In other words, both types of bets involve placing a cash wager before the game, and then distributing this cash among the winners in a certain proportion. In this context, with the exception of fixed odds bets and mutual bets, no other type of bet and/or game of chance on sporting events is explicitly regulated under Turkish law.

Similarly, any type of bet and/or game of chance on sporting events that is not paid in cash is not explicitly regulated under the Sports Legislation. However, it is essential to note that for any game involving elements of chance and prediction, the authority of Spor Toto to permit and regulate such activities is always present. Therefore, even if the game does not fall under the two types of betting mentioned above, it should be remembered that Spor Toto retains authority and broad discretion.

Engaging in sports betting or gambling based on sports events without authorization granted by Sports Legislation carries various criminal sanctions under the relevant legislation. Additionally, fines and imprisonment penalties are provided for those who provide facilities or opportunities for betting and gambling activities.

However, if the activity in question is carried out over the internet, another regulation comes into play in addition to the Sports Legislation. Accordingly, another type of sanction may arise under Law No. 5651 on the Regulation of Publications on the Internet and Combating Crimes Committed through Such Publications (Internet Law), which is the main legislation regulating internet-related matters. Pursuant to the Internet Law, there is also the possibility of issuing a decision to remove content and/or block access to publications that there are sufficient grounds for suspicion that they constitute an offense under the Sports Legislation.

The subject matter is particularly contentious in recent years, and with the advancement of technology, it is encountered frequently. Therefore, it is significant to evaluate the Sports Legislation comprehensively when organizing any game, competition, etc., based on sports competitions, and to determine its boundaries well.

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