Ukraine is making another attempt to legalize gambling

Ukraine is making yet another attempt to legalize gambling after its complete ban in 2009. After it was announced by the President of Ukraine Mr. Volodymyr Zelenskyi earlier in 2019 about his intention to revert back gambling in Ukraine on legal basis, the Government of Ukraine has prepared and submitted to the Ukrainian Parliament a comprehensive draft on regulation of gambling that was registered by the latter on 17 October 2019.

The draft prepared by Ukrainian Government (the “Draft Law”) provides for the regulation of the following types of gambling activities:

a. casino;
b. online casino;
c. betting;
d. online betting;
e. gambling at slot machine halls;
f. hosting lotteries (at that the Law of Ukraine “On State Lotteries in Ukraine” dated 6 September 2012 is to be abolished);
g. poker at poker clubs;
h. online poker.

In order to apply and obtain a license an applicant must be a Ukrainian resident company, whose main activity is organizing of gambling and whose charter capital constitutes minimum UAH 30,000,000 (about USD 1,210,654). Under one license only one single brand of the gambling operator may be used.

The number of licenses for each type of gambling activity will be limited. Based on the Draft Law it appears that there will be 20 licenses for casinos, 80 licenses for betting shops, and 160 for slot machine halls. As concerns online gambling operators, there will be 10 licenses for online betting operators, plus 5 licenses for online poker.

Each license will be obtained upon the results of electronic auction. It is also the electronic auction to define the amount of annual payment for maintenance of validity of each license. The Draft Law itself establishes only initial annual amount of payment for each type of license which appears to be rather high.

The Draft Law also envisages a new special regulator – the Commission on Gambling Development and Regulation – which shall be responsible for the issuance of licenses and share the controlling functions with fiscal authorities.

In addition to the Draft Law mentioned above, 7 (seven) alternative draft laws were prepared and submitted to Ukrainian Parliament by various people’s deputies. All of the draft laws, including main and alternative ones, were approved for the agenda and shall be considered at the current session of Ukrainian Parliament, i.e. before 24 January 2020.