The Ukrainian government is pushing to legalise gambling by December 2019

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Guvernul ucrainean The Ukrainian government

The Ukrainian government has said it will be pushing for rapid legalization of gambling in the country, with the hope that the legislation will be in place by 1 December 2019.

This will allow residents of the country to bet legally and the government anticipates the move will bring in up to £300 million in revenue. 

Gambling has not been legal in Ukraine since 2009, apart from the state lottery, so the new laws mark a significant change in government policy. 

New source of revenue 

Until very recently, Ukraine had taken a tough stance on illegal gambling and had embarked on a campaign across the country to stamp out underground activity. The disputed territory of Crimea had also been the subject of activity from law enforcement in Ukraine, but when Russia swooped in and annexed the area it announced it would be launching a rejuvenated casino industry.  

As a direct result of Russia’s ruling and being powerless to take action against gamblers, Ukraine voted to bring back legal gambling too. Keen to maximize revenue and prevent more illegal activity, President Volodymyr Zelensky is pushing to get the bill signed off and in effect by 1 December 2019.  

Officials have told the President that the government’s coffers could be significantly swollen by the taxes payable from legal betting. Estimates suggest that between £193 million and £300 million will come pouring in once casinos are up and running.  

Strict regulation of the industry 

Illegal gambling has been rife in Ukraine, primarily due to the lack of a formal body overseeing it, plus an apathy from several corners to really tackle the problem. The government believes that bringing in tough laws for legal gambling, plus a new regulator will ensure that illegal activity is caught and punished, while promoting legal gambling revenues.  

However, although the government are now taking a radically different stance on gambling, there will be very strict rules in place.  

For any venue to become a licensed gambling establishment, tough conditions must be met. For properties in Kiev, this means having at least 200 rooms, while those outside the city must have a minimum of 150 rooms. Only 40,000 slot machines will be permitted nationwide, with a limit of 250 per venue. 

The Ukrainian government has indicated that the first step will be to put a regulator in place who can oversee the issuing of the applications for licences, as appropriate.