Gambling in Ukraine
Gambling in Ukraine was made illegal in 2009 after a May 2009 fire in a gambling hall in Dnipropetrovsk that killed nine people. The Law On Prohibition of Gambling Business in Ukraine also applies to internet casinos. The Ukrainian parliament passed the law "On Prohibition of Gambling Business in Ukraine" (Gambling Ban Law) banning gambling business and any participation in gambling in Ukraine on May 15. The President of Ukraine Viktor Yushchenko signed the law on June 23 and on June 25 it came into force.
The law gives the definition of gambling. It says that any game requiring the player to make a bet that enables them to receive a prize and the result of which depends on chance partially or completely, is considered gambling. Thus, all kinds of gambling, including slot machines, bookmaking, online gambling, interactive gambling became illegal. The law also provides a list of activities that are not considered gambling. These include lotteries, creative competitions and sporting events, pool, bowling, free draws carried for purposes of advertising, charity, promotion and education, etc.
According to the Gambling Ban Law, both organization of gambling business and gambling are illegal. The law provides that any organizer or gambling should be fined, while the gambling equipment and the revenue received is subject to transfer to the budget of the country. Despite the prohibition, by July 20, 2009 over 500 facts of illegal operation of gambling establishments had been exposed in Ukraine which resulted in the confiscation of 6,000 slot machines and around 216 criminal charges.
According to Prime Minister of Ukraine Yulia Tymoshenko Ukraine had an unusually high number of gambling halls (over 100,000), which "take the last money from families, which don't have much, and which corrupt young Ukrainians."
According to the Gambling Ban Law, the new Draft Law "On Gambling Organization and Maintenance of Gambling Activities in the Special Gambling Zones" should have been created within 3 months after the Ban Law took effect. However, because of the unstable political situation in Ukraine this draft wasn't introduced until 2010.
On November 3, 2010 the Draft Law was made public. This law provided for the establishment of the state-owned National Gambling Operator that would control the organization and regulation of gambling activities and also issue licenses for all private gambling operators.
A significant provision of the Draft Law is the creation of so-called gaming zones. All gambling activities with the exception of state cash lotteries should move to these gaming zones. The list of gaming zones includes:
- hotels with at least 4 star rating and 100 rooms
- cultural and entertainment complexes, nonresidential premises, Ukraine-registered ships that can accommodate a casino with a gambling hall of at least 500 sq. meters
Gambling establishments can't be opened within less than 500 m proximity of the educational and government institutions and healthcare facilities. The main reasons for choosing such locations were the intentions of the Ukrainian government to:
1) limit the possibilities of the vulnerable part of the population to play games of chance
2) get profit from the EURO 12 that will be held in Ukraine and will inevitably attract many solvent tourists.
The Draft Law was developed with the intention of creating a properly regulated gambling market in Ukraine. For this reason the law provides stringent requirements for potential gambling business owners. A very serious financial background is one of them. The cost of a one-time fee for obtaining a gambling license will amount to $5 million. The same amount of money gambling business operator should have in the form of a registered capital. The license is issued for a term of 7 years, so the license fee can be paid in parts within the period of license activity. The size of the fee is determined by the Act on Gambling Businesses.
Poker tournaments in Ukraine flourished after the ban as a way of circumventing the country's gambling ban. Hence on December 31, 2009 the Justice Ministry of Ukraine rescinded its decision of July 1, 2009 which had included poker on the list of sports recognized in Ukraine.
TV and radio
- BYT's Korolevska: Crackdown on gambling business by February, Kyiv Post (December 24, 2009)
- Update: Fire in gambling hall kills nine people in Dnipropetrovsk, Kyiv Post (May 7, 2009)
- Turchynov: Ban on gambling in Ukraine applies to Internet casinos as well, Kyiv Post (July 18, 2009)
- Cabinet: Gambling business unlikely to be licensed, Kyiv Post (January 12, 2010)
- Law of Ukraine "On Prohibition of Gambling Business in Ukraine"
- Governmental checks expose over 500 facts of illegal operation of gambling establishments, Kyiv Post (July 20, 2009)
- Tymoshenko: Ukraine's 'Las Vegas' can only be built with prior permission of local communities, Kyiv Post (May 18, 2009)
- Draft Law on Gambling Games
- Kolesnikov promised new rules for gambling in April
- State releases the gambling industry to freedom, but with conditions
- Gambling Market in Ukraine
- Justice Ministry removes poker from list of recognized sports, Kyiv Post (December 31, 2009)
- Yanukovych signs law on ban on paid interactive quizzes on TV and radio, Kyiv Post (6 March 2012)