Why Turkish Gamblers Launched Their Own Political Party
Turkey made all gambling illegal in 1998, but it’s almost impossible to kill a political party there. So one gambling ring based in the country’s Adana province developed an ingenious workaround: It founded a political party.
By creating a faux party—Guven (“Trust” in English)—and using its headquarters as a front for a casino, the gambling network headed by Guven Ozen managed to keep bringing in a reported $25,000 a day even after 44 police raids. Each time, the cops would get a search warrant, barge through the doors, fine the patrons and leave—and the gambling would resume soon thereafter. That’s because only a decision of the Supreme Court in Turkey can shut down a political organization or shutter its headquarters.
Of course, the network had to take precautionary measures to survive the police raids, posting established lookouts outside the local courthouse and police department to notify party headquarters when the authorities were on their way. It also released hot-air balloons with bingo cards attached to them and disguised secret tunnels as sewer systems. The party headquarters building itself was so impenetrable that police had to break through a wall during one raid to gain access.
After months of stymieing authorities, Ozen told local press in September that he was closing down the party and its headquarters because he was sick of newspaper paparazzi chasing him all the time. What did he do next? He founded another political party—the more patriotically named Rising Nationalist Will Party. Police have already raided it 11 times.