President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy signed a law on the legalization of the gambling business. Now it will be possible to open casinos, bookmakers’ offices, slot machine halls and online poker sites in Ukraine.
The website of the Verkhovna Rada reported on the approval of the bill “On state regulation of activities for the organization and conduct of gambling”. The draft law itself was approved by the Ukrainian parliament on July 14, 248 MPs voted for it. Since the first review of the document in January 2020, about 3,000 amendments have been made to it.
The new law allows activities related to gambling and defines the basic conditions for the operation of the gambling business. For example, such games will only be allowed to be played from the age of 21, and upon entering the establishment you will have to confirm your age. In the future, it is planned to create a list of persons who are denied access to gambling establishments.
The authorized capital of a company that wants to register as a gambling operator must be at least 30 million hryvnias, and the organizers must be legal entities and residents of Ukraine.
Requirements for the location of gaming organizations are also spelled out. In the territories of three-, four- and five-star hotels, it will be possible to place slot machine halls and bookmakers’ offices (the latter – also at the hippodrome). But casinos are available only in four- and five-star hotels or special gaming zones.
At the same time, poker clubs were singled out in a separate category and prescribed that they can only be sports. However, it will still be possible to play poker for real money – but only on the territory of the casino. At the same time, such establishments will be able to operate on online platforms.
The sphere of gambling will be fully monitored by the Ukrainian authorities. The work of the gambling business will be regulated by a special commission subordinate to the government of the country. It will deal with issuing licenses, maintaining registers and defining requirements for equipment certification. In addition, an online monitoring system will be introduced for the purpose of state control over the activities of gambling organizers.
The proceeds to the state budget from the activities of the gambling business are planned to be used to finance medicine, sports and culture. The Ukrainian authorities expect that the country’s budget will be replenished by $ 400 million annually, and the withdrawal of the gambling industry from the shadows will accelerate GDP growth to 1%.
The gambling business in Ukraine has been banned since 2009, after a fire in a slot machine hall in Dnepropetrovsk, which killed nine people. Even bookmakers were not allowed to work in the country. And since 2011, the Verkhovna Rada voted to ban online casinos, although some companies continued to operate under international licenses. In August 2019, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy announced his intention to legalize gambling in order to spur the development of Ukrainian tourism.
Why Did Ukraine Decide To Legalize?
The decision to legalize casinos and gambling has been ripe for a long time in Ukraine, because in 2020 the country was one of the few in Europe where such a ban was in force. Most advanced economies have long followed the rules: if people want games, then they need to be allowed, but on favorable terms for everyone. And while the ban is in effect, business simply develops in the shadows, does not bring profit to the state, without giving any guarantees to the participants in the process.
Back in the past, after the ban on casinos, the upper echelons of government admitted that a serious mistake had been made. However, prior to its solution in modern realities, no decisive steps were taken due to the presence of other, more serious problems in the country.
Legalization solves many current tasks in one fell swoop. The presence of official gambling complexes will attract tourists to Ukraine, create jobs, satisfy the interests of those who play, and, of course, replenish the treasury with taxes.
The experience of neighboring countries, including the very conservative Belarus, shows that such a decision yields positive results. At the same time, the presence of a well-thought-out legislative framework allows tight control of the negative aspects that are usually associated with this line of business.
What International Experts Think
International experts welcome the return of the gambling business to Ukraine. Thus, the international company, Michael Boettcher’s Storm International, which operates gambling complexes in several states, calls the country a promising market in Europe. And this is really so, because gambling complexes are already operating in most EU countries, and the main players have long been established, it is almost impossible to expand, all niches are occupied.
Ukraine has vast territories, there are many large cities and enough tourist zones where the recreational sector can and should be developed. This is where legal casinos with their infrastructure fit perfectly.
Naturally, the opening of gambling complexes will attract investment and provide jobs for thousands of citizens. And this is also an important moment, notes Darren Keane, the Storm International managing director. For example, in the Shangri La gambling houses, which the company operates, there are a lot of employees from Ukraine. They left their home country in search of well-paid jobs. Now, when casinos appear in Ukraine, they will be able to return home, be close to their families and at the same time count on decent wages.
In general, the company welcomes the country’s decision to legalize the gambling business, said Darren Keane, Storm International sees great prospects in Ukraine.