Two Turkish junior employees of the UK Internet gambling group Sportingbet must be regretting their decision to travel home to Istanbul for a holiday following their arrest over three weeks back and continued detention by Turkish authorities. In a confusing situation it is still not clear what charges they face or when they will be released on bail.
This week the CEO at Sportingbet, Andy McIver, revealed that the company has hired a Turkish law firm to try and find out what the charges are and secure the release of the two London-based employees. It appears they were caught up in the arrests of 30 other individuals, twenty of whom were subsequently released, who were employees of Maslin Properties, a former marketing associate of Sportingbet's Turkish subsidiary Superbahis.
McIver told the London newspaper The Telegraph that the incident had been a frustrating experience and very unfair for the individuals involved, whom he declined to identify. "We are seeking a hearing next week to get the Turkish equivalent of bail or a charge," he said.
Reports in the Turkish media claim that police are investigating allegations of organised crime, money laundering and tax evasion rather than a specific crackdown on Internet gambling, and McIver has previously stressed that such reports focused on Maslin Properties.
He reiterated that Sportingbet has no immediate plans to pull out of the Turkish market, a course taken by some of Sportingbet's competitors such as Party Gaming and Bwin, however the Sportingbet board has directed that no director should travel to Turkey at present.
Turkish action is mainly centred on football betting and constituted 13.9 percent of Sportingbet's net gaming revenues in the company's third quarter, down from 25.8 percent in Q2.
McIver has previously said that Sportingbet's interpretation of the law is that it can continue taking bets in Turkey as long as it has no assets or operations in that country.