Gambling in Ukraine
Gambling in the Ukraine is currently under the legalisation process. On January 16th 2020 the Ukrainian Government Verkhovna Rada approved the draft Law No. 2285-D on gambling legalisation in the Ukraine. It is the first step to legalise gambling in the Ukraine since 2009 when the Ukrainian government adopted a resolution to ban gambling. The fallacy of that initiative became apparent within the very first few months after the law came into force: underground gambling businesses started springing up all across the country, because of which the state budget incurred some substantial losses. No positive impact on the dynamics of combating gambling addiction was ever observed, and gamblers were forced to move to illegal institutions, after which they lost any guarantees of fair play. Talks about the need to restore the legal status via primary gambling laws have been going on for at least 5 years, until the Ukrainian politicians have finally decided to legalise the gambling business in land-based and online casinos by means of issuing the state licenses to the gaming companies who would fulfil the legal requirements. Soon Ukrainian players will be able to gamble online in a safe and legal way. The legal gambling in the Ukraine will help raise up to 4 billion UAH per year that will be invested in the development of medicine, culture and sports.
Legal Gambling Games in the Ukraine
According to the explanatory note of the Draft Law 2285-D, the following types of gambling business will be legalised:
- Land-based casinos that will be located exclusively on the territory of five-star hotels.
- Betting shops and online betting. The law establishes special requirements for betting software certification.
- Online casinos. Certified online monitoring system has to be implemented by online casinos with the website hosting in the UA domain zone. The owners of online casinos should also provide the opportunity for players to set voluntary limits on spending money and time.
- Slot machines. The number of slot machines in the Ukraine is limited to 40 thousand, the licenses to operate slots will be issued by means of tendering process. The slot halls can be located only in hotels of 3-stars and higher category or in stand-alone buildings far away from educational and public centres.
- Lotteries. Three types of licenses for issuing and organising lotteries are supposed.
- Online poker. The requirements for organising poker tournaments will be established.
The minimum age for gambling is increased - from 21 years. Until the law 2285-D comes into force, the main legislative act that regulated gambling in the territory of the state is the 2009 Law On Prohibition of Gambling Business in Ukraine.
Imperfect licensing mechanism was one of the factors that supporters of the gambling ban in Ukraine were appealing to. With this law some organisations were obtaining their own licenses and others were operating under the licenses of different companies. At the time when the ban was imposed, about 200 companies had a license to run gambling games, and over 4,000 companies were operating in this business. This is what the scheme looked like: the licensee would get an appropriate permit from the Ministry of Finance and local governing authorities and with an insufficient level of profit from its own establishments, the licensee would form a partnership network which provided opportunities for other companies to operate. The bill, which is currently under consideration, is expected to have no shortcomings and the licensing procedure will leave no room for such manoeuvres. At the time when the ban was imposed, a license would be issued for operations of gaming establishments and bookmakers without any detailed subdivision into various categories of gambling. The legislative basis did not outline any licensing procedure for online casinos.
Online gambling in Ukraine
As soon as the Law 2285-D "On state regulation of gambling organisation" takes effect, the online gambling will be legal in Ukraine. The online casinos will operate under the state licences issued for the websites with Ukrainian hosting and domains that will implement the gambling online control system required by law.
Until 2020 the online casinos in the Ukraine had no legal status, although the ban didn't not stop Ukrainian users from visiting the international gambling websites. Formally online casinos were supposed to be blocked for the Ukrainian players. In fact, the players had the opportunity to gain access to any online casino except for the international online gambling operators who restricted the gambling access for Ukrainian users. It is expected that the international gambling companies will be the first to enter the Ukrainian online gambling market due to their experience in gaming sector.
Popular slots in the Ukraine
Book of Ra by Greentube is listed as the top-ranking slot in most of the online casinos used by the players from Ukraine. For many years this slot has remained one of the most favourite developments for Eastern European players. Fruit Cocktail by Russian company Igrosoft is yet another favourite slot among the Ukrainian gambling fans. The slot gained interest due to the fact that it was also available in land-based gambling halls before gambling in Ukraine was outlawed. The Aztec Gold slot has also been enjoying great interest among the Ukrainians. Just like Fruit Cocktail, the slot was widely available in gambling halls and land-based casinos. According to unofficial reports, this slot by Casino Technology can be found in underground facilities. These are the slots that are much played among Ukrainians : Lucky Lady’s Charm (Greentube), Gonzo’s Quest (NetEnt), Resident (Igrosoft), Sizzling Hot (Greentube) and Starburst (NetEnt).
Developers of gaming software products
SGS Universal is one of the most sought after Ukrainian developers. The company commenced its official operations back in 2009, yet the developers claim that the company has 30 years of experience. Over 100 different slots have been developed under the brand name of SGS Universal. HTML5 technology is used in making the games. These are the slots from the SGS portfolio that are especially in demand: Arabian Nights, Cabaret, Dembel, Fun Zoo, Russian Tales and Wheels of Fire. The company has its representatives in the US, Switzerland and the UK. There are many developers that have their representatives in Ukraine, which include: NetEnt, WinADay, Belatra and Drive Media.
Development of the Gambling Market in the Ukraine
The association agreement was signed between Ukraine and the European Union back in 2014. This agreement is aimed at a faster integration in various areas of politics, trade and culture. It would be logical to assume that the gambling industry will be one of the aspects that will affect the convergence of Ukraine and the EU. This has to do with two points. First, ever since visa-free travel was introduced, tours to European regions with lenient legislation towards gambling became much played among the Ukrainian tourists. Special themed gambling tours were included in the list of Ukrainian travel agencies.
Legalisation of gambling from this standpoint will allow the Ukraine to get a significant inflow of funds into the state budget and prevent their outflow abroad. Second, the European Union has a clear-cut regulation concerning organisation of gambling and a number of requirements towards providing access to goods and services that are legal in the EU. When gambling in Ukraine gets legal status, the Ukrainian government will have to adapt to the European commission's requirements.