October 25, 2019

Ukraine Is Preparing to Legalize the Gambling Business: Official Data and Opinions

Ukraine is officially preparing to legalize the gambling business, which has been banned since 2009. The new leadership of the country is preparing a legislative framework for gambling complexes to begin work in the highest level hotels. The Cabinet of Ministers has already approved the idea, it remains to make the bill so that it is profitable and safe for all participants in the process.

At the moment, Ukraine is one of the few European countries where there is no casino at all. In 2009, they were closed. In the same year, Russia amended gambling legislation. But Ukraine, unlike its neighbor, did not transfer the casino to some special zones but introduced a total ban. At the same time, there are numerous slot halls in the country under the guise of a national lottery. Their work is practically not regulated.

This situation is bad for Ukrainians and for the state treasury. The new president and the renewed Verkhovna Rada are moving towards legalizing gambling in a European fashion. It is planned to open several dozens of gambling establishments in resort areas, for example, on the Black Sea, as well as in large cities. While it is a question of casinos working only on the hotels’ basis. President Zelensky has already given instructions to the Cabinet of Ministers on the preparation of the corresponding bill.

Although the text is not yet ready, some details are already known, in addition to the fact that gambling halls can be located only in 5- and possibly 4-star hotels. Another clarification concerns gambling equipment and software. Operators will only have to use what complies with international standards.

Also, the new law will help fight the numerous slot halls currently operating throughout Ukraine. Most often they are next to pawnshops and their audience is socially unprotected population segments. Such a scheme still works due to the unregulated status of establishments with slot machines. And the injured party is their unlucky visitors and their families.

Cleaning the country of illegal gambling is a priority, said the Prime Minister of Ukraine, Alexey Goncharuk. That is why the idea of placing a casino in high-class hotels is the most optimal. Also, the work of lotteries and bookmakers will be a subject of strict control.

ukraine, crimea, map

To open a bookmaker, you will need to pay a license fee equivalent to 400,000 – 1,300,000 pounds. Its amount will depend on where the establishment is located.

Surveys have already been conducted to Ukrainians regarding the gambling legalization. As it turned out, almost half of those surveyed over the age of 18 supported legalizations, and only 34% were against the casino.

At the same time, gambling professionals fully support the initiatives of the new government. Many international operators are waiting, preparing to expand their business in Ukraine. After all, this is one of the few countries where the casino niche is completely free.

The company Storm International, which manages gambling complexes in Armenia, Georgia, Belarus, and Latvia, is waiting with interest for the final version of the gambling law in Ukraine. Until 2009, the international holding managed several casinos in Russia but did not want to transfer its establishments to remote recreational areas. The business closure in Russia led to the Shangri La network development in other countries.

Darren Keane, Storm International CEO, said the company had been waiting for new gambling laws in Ukraine for several years. Earlier, the leadership had already said that it would be with pleasure to come to work in the country with a well-prepared legislative base. Indeed, in the end, everyone should get their own benefit: players, the tourism sector, gambling business owners and the state.

It has long been proven that a ban on casinos is not a particularly effective measure. Institutions simply go into the shadows, which creates problems with corruption and the law. As a result, the state suffers first, as it receives problems and fewer taxes.

Since in the CIS countries Storm International, Darren Keane said, is one of the leaders, it will be interesting for the company to continue its business in Ukraine. It will also be good for employees who are Ukraine citizens but are forced to work abroad. Many employees of Shangri La Casino Tbilisi, Riga, Yerevan and Minsk come from Ukraine. Mr. Keane believes that they will be happy with the new law, as they will get a chance to return home and work there, having a decent salary.

About the author 

Anu Balam

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