Turkey Shuts Linktree Access, Claims It’s Used to Finance Illegal Gambling

Posted on: October 23, 2023, 08:15h. 

Last updated on: October 23, 2023, 11:29h.

The General Directorate of the National Lottery of Turkey has blocked access to the popular link-sharing platform Linktree.  This move comes in response to allegations that the platform has been utilized for illegal online gambling payments and the financing of terrorism, according to media outlet Free Web Turkey.

A man holds the national flag of Turkey in front of the mausoleum of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey
A man holds the national flag of Turkey in front of the mausoleum of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey. The country is beginning to crack down harder on anything related to online gambling. (Image: Associated Press)

Turkey has stringent laws governing gambling activities within its borders. Gambling is largely prohibited except for a few state-sanctioned entities, such as the National Lottery. The government aims to curb illegal gambling and prevent the associated social issues by enforcing strict regulations.

Linktree, a platform popular for its link-sharing capabilities, allows users, particularly on social media, to compile multiple links into a single customizable page. It is a convenient tool for creators, businesses, and individuals to share various online content, such as websites, articles, and social media profiles, through a single link.

Free Web Turkey cited several examples of links that had been blocked. The General Directorate of the National Lottery of Turkey also confirmed that access had been shut off in response to the alleged activity.

The decision to block Linktree — which can be used in conjunction with Instagram, Snapchat, and other social media platforms — highlights the Turkish government’s commitment to combating illegal activities. That’s especially true for those that involve financial transactions related to gambling and terrorism financing. The move is aligned with the broader global efforts to strengthen regulations around online activities that pose potential risks to national security.

Turkish Gambling Law

The Turkish government prohibits most forms of gambling to maintain social order and protect citizens from potential financial harm. The only exception is the state-run sports betting company IDDAA, which is authorized to offer limited betting services on sports events. This monopoly on sports betting allows the government to regulate and control gambling activities while generating revenue through taxes and licenses.

The legal framework also extends to online gambling, with strict measures in place to prevent unauthorized operators from offering their services to Turkish citizens. Access to many international gambling websites is restricted through internet service providers, and the government actively blocks these platforms.

Penalties for engaging in illegal gambling can range from fines to imprisonment, emphasizing the government’s commitment to curbing the influence of gambling within the country. While these laws are designed to address social and economic concerns, they also limit individual freedoms and choices in entertainment.

Far-Reaching Consequences

Linktree, headquartered in Australia, hasn’t released an official statement. The platform has gained popularity for its simplicity and utility, making it a valuable tool for content creators.

As the situation unfolds, it raises questions about the role of online gaming platforms in ensuring compliance with national laws across various jurisdictions. It also emphasizes governments’ ongoing challenges in regulating the digital landscape to safeguard against illegal activities, including financing terrorism.

Many countries, such as France, are looking at the digital spectrum closer. As such, influencers and users can expect numerous changes over the next few years.