Turkish Authorities Commenced New Crackdown on Illegal Betting

Illegal betting activities in northern Cyprus continue, organized by relatives of murdered businessman Halil Falyali, according to Turkish Minister of Interior Suleyman Soylu.

Illegal Betting Continues

Soylu, who spoke to the Turkish news media channel TRT, claimed that the entire area from the Balkans to Malta and the north is filled with illegal online betting operations.

“We conducted a preliminary operation in October 2022,” Soylu said and went on to announce that a new crackdown on illegal gambling is underway since this Monday, outlining that “the organization in question” operates “15 betting sites, which are active in island countries with a favorable tax regime, originating in Malta.”

Soylu also commented on the operation in October when Turkish authorities arrested 46 people on suspicion of participating in an illegal betting ring.

46 individuals across eight provinces were arrested back then after an investigation linked to the murder of Falyali led investigators to an organization that was receiving the proceeds of illegal betting in the form of cryptocurrency assets.

Soylu said that some of the 136 individuals who were identified as being involved with the illegal betting operations are relatives of Falyali. He also raised the total number of arrests during the October crackdown to 101.

“The income from these crimes can be used very easily in other countries,” he noted.

Underworld and Political Involvement

On Falyali’s execution, Soylu mentioned that following the six arrests in Turkey, authorities identified links to activities in northern Cyprus and Malta. Falyali was shot while being driven home and died of his wounds in the hospital. His driver was also shot dead during the attack.

The execution of Falyali stirred media speculation of his alleged links to organized crime, with several reports speculating that he was the mastermind behind a gambling empire in the north, and by running the illegal betting activities he has managed to establish powerful connections with the underworld that may have led to his gang-style murder.

Falyali was previously pointed as one of the political figures with shady activities by Turkish gang leader Sedat Peker, who implied Falyali’s involvement with drug trafficking and money laundering in collaboration with the son of former Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim, Erkan, but Falyali had denied allegations.

Turkish media also speculated about links between Falyali and Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar after a photo of them dining together appeared to confirm suspicions raised by a published telephone call in February, which alleged Falyali was sponsoring Tatar’s election campaign.

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