Turkey’s football chief to operate biggest sports betting company

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Yıldırım Demirören, Turkey's football chief and the owner

The top bid to operate İddaa, Turkey’s only legal sports betting company, has come from a venture including the conglomerate of Turkish Football Federation Chairman Yildirim Demirören, Reuters reported on Wednesday, citing broadcaster NTV.

The Şans Girişim venture, composed of the chairman’s Demirören Holding and US company Scientific Games, offered a 0.2 percent revenue-sharing deal, down from its previous bid of 2.1 percent, NTV and other Turkish media said.

A rival bid by Inteltek — a venture between Turkish mobile phone operator Turkcell and its subsidiary Intralot — offered 0.5 percent.

Inteltek won the rights to operate İddaa in 2008 for 10 years with a 1.4 percent commission.

Turkcell’s shares were down 0.6 percent at 1031 GMT.

Demiroren’s participation in the tender drew criticism from Turkey’s main opposition.

“While it is unethical for someone still sitting in the TFF chairmanship to take part in the tender in question, it is clear the position he holds also provides an advantage to his own firm,” lawmaker Ali Mahir Başarır from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) said.

“It is an absolute scandal for Demirören to participate in the İddaa tender,” Başarır said in a motion he submitted to parliament on the matter.

Demirören bought Turkey’s biggest media company, Doğan Media, in 2017 with a state bank loan.

Inteltek was the only bidder in an initial tender held in November. The commission running the tender canceled bidding a month later citing a lack of competition.

All other betting and gambling platforms are banned in Turkey.

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