Gambling in Ukraine
Parliament outlawed gambling in 2009 after a May 2009 fire in a gambling hall in Dnipro that killed nine people. 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 On Prohibition of Gambling Business in Ukraine also applied to internet casinos, it did not apply to lotteries.
2009 Ukrainian ban on gambling
After a May 2009 fire in a gambling hall in Dnipro that killed nine people several parts of society demanded a ban on gambling. 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 On Prohibition of Gambling Business in Ukraine also applied to internet casinos. It did not apply to lotteries.
The law gave the definition of gambling. It stated 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 provided a list of activities that are not considered gambling. These included 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 were illegal. The law provided that any organizer or gambling should be fined, while the gambling equipment and the revenue received was subject to transfer to the budget of the state. 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."
2010 Draft Law
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.
On September 29, 2015 in Kiev, the first in the history of gambling Congress Ukraine, Ukrainian Gaming Congress was held.
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. When parliament legalised gambling again on 14 July 2020 poker tournaments were also reallowed. Albeit with regulations and age restrictions.
TV and radio
On 14 July 2020 president Volodymyr Zelenskyy signed the Ukrainian law “On State Regulation of Organising and Conducting Gambling”. Both local and foreign investors will have access to the market, only legal entities registered in Ukraine may become gambling operators. Gambling operators shall not be controlled by a Russian resident nor have a Russian person as a shareholder or Ultimate Beneficial Owner (UBO). Neither should they have shareholders registered in countries currently blacklisted by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), in other words North Korea and Iran.
In addition, a gambling operator must have a share capital of at least USD 1.1 million (UAH 30.7 million/GBP 906,000/EUR 1.0 million). They must open a deposit account or obtain a guarantee from a Ukrainian bank for USD 1.2 million, and they must have a dot.ua domain name.
In early February, the first gambling licenses were issued in Ukraine, obtained by Spacex LLC, which operates the Cosmolot brand. The Ukrainian company Parimatch also received a license. The cost of the license for 5 years is UAH 39 million. The third license was obtained by Gamedev LLC, the fourth on February 18, 2021 was obtained by First Element LLC, paying UAH 23 million for it.
Ukrainian Gaming Week, the first thematic conference on gambling in Ukraine, was scheduled for February 24. The UGW 2021 exhibition will take place on March 23-24. According to Ivan Rudy from the Game Regulation Commission, in February the budget received UAH 70.2 million from the issuance of licenses, in total during 2021 it was planned to receive UAH 6-7 billion.
- Ukraine's parliament legalizes gambling, UNIAN (14 July 2020)
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- 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)
- Update: Fire in gambling hall kills nine people in Dnipropetrovsk, Kyiv Post (May 7, 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" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-04-25. Retrieved 2011-11-22.
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- 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)
- Ukraine: gambling (re-)legalised, Sayenko Kharenko (12 August 2020)
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