Turks flock to Batum casinos
ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Turks cross into Georgia through Sarp border gate near Artvin’s Hopa district. DHA PhotoThe abolition of the requirement to show passports at the Turkish-Georgian border has led to a huge influx of Turkish tourists to the border town of Batum in the Caucasian country to gamble, daily Akşam reported yesterday.
“Nearly all the customers who come to the gambling houses here are Turks. Many Turks from [the Black Sea provinces of] Rize, Trabzon, Artvin, Giresun and even Samsun come to Batum for a single day to gamble,” said Engin Arıkan, the Turkish ambassador to Georgia.
The number of Turks who crossed into Batum over the past year has swollen to about 3.2 million people, following an agreement between Turkey and Georgia to allow both countries’ citizens to cross each other’s borders with identity cards only, rather than with passports, according to Arıkan.
“Some of those who call us ask on the phone whether their husbands have a Georgian lover. Some ask whether their husbands came [here] to gamble, and yet others plead [for us] to send their husbands back home if they are at a casino,” Arıkan said. Most of the Turkish tourists crossing into Batum have middle-class means and take advantage of free food and alcohol at the casinos while playing with the meager sums available to them, he added