In the summer of 2019, Ukraine started talking about the legalization of the gambling business after 10 years of the ban. This is a landmark event after the total ban in 2009. Then the country together with Russia put all casinos outlawed. One RF transferred gambling complexes to specialized recreational areas. But in Ukraine, they limited themselves to a ban on casinos and unclear status for slot halls.
After the change of president, they started talking about the casinos’ legalization in Ukraine. And in August 2019, Vladimir Zelenskyy confirmed that he intends to return the gambling business legally. This is economically beneficial for the country, and will also allow developing the tourism sector more efficiently. The Cabinet of Ministers has already received the task of preparing a bill that takes into account the interests of all participants in the process.
At the moment, the text of the bill is not yet ready. However, some details are already known. So, the opening of gambling establishments is supposed to be exclusively based on hotels. First of all, five-star, perhaps some four-star. More restrictions apply to software and equipment. Allowed only the use of products that meet international requirements.
Also in the new law on the gaming industry, there will be restrictions on the slot halls operation. So far they have unregulated status. The real problem was the dominance of such organizations throughout Ukraine. They work under the national lottery guise, often located near pawnshops. Such a scheme is a real problem since it damages the well-being of socially disadvantaged groups of the population.
In his interviews, Prime Minister Goncharuk repeatedly said that the new casino law will solve the slot halls problem. The rules governing the bookmakers’ work will also change. To obtain a license, they will need to pay from 400 thousand to 1.3 million pounds. It all depends on the institution’s location. Also, the license size for the casino will depend on the location. It is assumed that in the resort area they will cost less to encourage operators to develop this area.
Surveys showed that Ukraine citizens have a different attitude to the future casinos’ legalization. 47% of adult respondents support the permission of gambling establishments work. And only 34% of respondents expressed their unwillingness to see casinos in Ukraine.
International operators are looking forward to the adoption of gambling laws in order to take action. Storm International, one of the leaders in the post-Soviet space, managing a casino in Georgia, Armenia, Belarus, and Latvia, has expressed interest in the Ukrainian market. The company waited for many years when the legislative framework appears and the casino ban is lifted, which, in fact, is not beneficial to anyone, said Darren Keane, Storm International Director.
As practice has shown, prohibitions drive gambling establishments into the shadows in many countries. And bona fide operators leave the market altogether. In any case, there are problems with corruption and the law.
Storm International, Darren Keane said, is glad that Ukraine has taken up a legislative solution to the issue. The director also believes that Ukraine citizens who were forced to seek work abroad will be happy about this. Thus, a large number of Ukrainians work in the casinos of Riga, Minsk, Yerevan, and Tbilisi. They will be happy to return to Ukraine to work closer to home and family.
Other operators are also considering working in Ukraine. They are optimistic, as the country’s top leadership promises to do everything possible so that the first casinos can earn by December 1, 2020. The greatest interest at the moment is the license size and specific requirements for gambling establishments. If a reasonable balance will be found, not only the Ukrainian state will benefit from this, but also operators, and their employees, and tourists, and players.