HomeGamblingTurkey Detains Iranian Over Running Betting Sites, Money Laundering

Turkey Detains Iranian Over Running Betting Sites, Money Laundering

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Turkish Interior Minister Ali Yerlikaya has announced the arrest of an Iranian citizen for his involvement in illegal betting sites, money laundering, and organized crime.

In addition to the main character, Sa’dollah Amirshaghaghi, three other people have also been detained in connection with the case, and six people are being sought, Yerlikaya wrote on X on Saturday.

Amirshaghaghi, aka Saeed Amiri, used someone else’s identity to stay in a hotel in Izmir and was arrested while preparing to flee abroad. Turkey’s interior minister also said that Amirshaghaghi was the head of an organized crime group that runs illegal Iranian betting and gambling sites. It is not yet clear whether he has been arrested at the request of Iranian officials.

The report further added that during the operation, $120,000, €80,000, 9 luxury watches, 15 companies worth $500,000, 10 cars, and partnership shares in 17 houses and buildings and 9 other companies were identified, discovered, and seized upon court order.

Amirshaghaghi’s name has been in the news for a long time after accusations by Iranian officials. In an interview with Iran International in September 2021, he had claimed that some people accuse him of running betting sites because they do not want the identities of the real administrators to be revealed. “I am sure that the operators of the betting sites are inside Iran,” he stressed.

“I’m not involved in politics, and I respect the Islamic Republic. However, I’m puzzled as to why I’m consistently portrayed as the central figure behind these sites,” Amirshaghaghi told Iran International.

Betting is forbidden in Iran as it violates Islamic Sharia law. However, many Iranians argue that the network of betting sites is launched or at least supported by the Iranian government as these sites can freely use Iranian bank payment gateways for their transactions.

According to the Iranian media, those behind such websites reportedly employed Turkey-based Instagram influencers and celebrities such as Milad Hatami and Davoud Ghaffari, known as “Davoud Hazineh,” to lure Iranians into gambling over the past years. Both individuals have been arrested and deported to Iran.

Hatami was sentenced to death in October 2023 over such allegations as “corruption on earth” and “widespread promotion of corruption.”

The most famous figure linked to betting sites is Amirhossein Maqsoodlou, an Iranian rapper better known by his stage name “Tataloo.” Turkish authorities detained and extradited him to Iran in December.

Tataloo’s alignment with the regime was evident when Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei praised one of his songs titled “Nuclear Energy.” Khamenei described it as having a “good melody” and “good content,” expressing satisfaction that it had unsettled the “enemy.”

Although in custody in Iran, the latest news from Iranian officials indicated that he has written an apology, which can help his legal case.

Tataloo also backed Ibrahim Raisi’s failed campaign in Iran’s 2017 presidential elections.

In 2021, Mehr news agency, close to Iran’s hardliners, estimated the total turnout of the Persian gambling sites to be over 5,000 billion rials (around $200 million a year).

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