Texas Hold'em, a popular online poker game, is being played in many parts of Turkey thanks to foundations established under various names, although playing online gambling games is banned in Turkey.
In 2006, the Turkish government put into effect a regulation that banned playing online gambling games and made it illegal for firms to provide these services to Turkish citizens under domestic law.
A recent police operation against the Texas Hold'em Play Cards Foundation in İstanbul's Etiler neighborhood resulted in the foundation being closed down. Police officials said there were playing cards at the foundation, which indicated that it was being used for gambling. Plus there was a huge amount of money going into the pockets of the gamblers.
Gamblers prefer to establish such foundations in order to evade police detection.
In July, a coffee house people used for gambling in İstanbul's Güngören neighborhood was sealed off by police. However, the owners of the establishment reopened the venue under the name of Texas Hold'em Play Cards Strategy and Thought Foundation. Güngören residents said the place had been raided by police numerous times over the past 15 years but it continued to be a venue for gambling.
One of the residents, who did not reveal his name, said: “The Haznedar neighborhood [of Güngören] is known as the Las Vegas of İstanbul. People come here every night in luxury cars. There is also prostitution here. Officials turn a blind eye to this and ignore our complaints. They changed the name of a casino to a foundation. Would they allow me to establish a foundation with the name ‘The Foundation to Support Terrorism'?”
Casinos were banned in Turkey in 1996.
Turkish Green Crescent (Yeşilay) head Muharrem Balcı said Yeşilay views games of chance and playing with cards for money as gambling.
Balcı noted that those involved in the gambling business operate under the umbrella of a foundation.
“What has gambling to do with strategy or thought? Every game in which playing cards are used is a game of chance. This is not chess or something,” he said.
Professor Mark Griffiths, director of the International Gaming Research Unit at Nottingham Trent University, told Today's Zaman that there are 32 million online gambling websites in the world and that there is a huge global problem pending due to online gambling.
He said countries such as China, South Korea, Taiwan and Indonesia have noticed the harmful effects of online gambling games on their society and have taken measures, yet Western countries refuse to take any steps against online gambling because of the influence of gambling lobbies.