Games & Casinos in Ukraine

Gambling in Ukraine

Gambling in the Ukraine is not currently legal but under review. The Ukraine is a European state whose legislators are working hard to legalise the gambling industry. In 2009 the Ukrainian government adopted a resolution to ban gambling. The fallacy of this 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. Ukrainian politicians have been speaking about these initiatives on a regular basis. The President of Ukraine Vladimir Zelenskiy promised to legalise and regulate the gambling games and casinos in the nearest future.

Gambling Games in the Ukraine

Book of Ra by Novomatic 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 (Novomatic), Gonzo’s Quest (NetEnt), Resident (Igrosoft), Sizzling Hot (Novomatic) and Starburst (NetEnt).

Gambling Legislation

The main legislative act that regulates gambling in the territory of the state today, is the 2009 Law On Prohibition of Gambling Business in Ukraine. According to this enactment, all types of gambling entertainment are banned. These are the types that the law does not apply to: Lotteries, gaming machines such as a crane claw machine with prizes that are not given out in cash, promotional draws on a free basis and games that do not imply any financial reward. Businesses caught organising gambling will pay a fine in the amount of 8,000 minimum salaries, their equipment will be impounded and their entire profit seized. The ban on gambling in land-based establishments has led to the rise in the the demand for online casinos, which were never mentioned in the original version of the law. Amendments were adopted in 2011, which also put a ban on electronic emulators, bookmakers and online casinos regardless of where the servers are located. Compliance with this law is overseen by the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine. Participation in gambling in Ukraine is an administrative offence. The most severe punishment that awaits a gambler is a fine in the amount of 425 UAH. At the time when the ban was imposed the gambling industry in Ukraine was well developed. Over 10,000 land-based establishments were operating in the country officially, where over 200,000 people were employed. In 2008 the state budget received almost 600,000,000 UAH from casino operations.

Gambling Licenses

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

Pursuant to the amendments introduced in the 2011 Gambling Ban Law, online casinos in Ukraine have no legal status at the present time. Even a quick glance at the statistics of visiting online resources in the Ukrainian segment of the Internet is enough to see that the ban does not stop users from visiting gambling websites. Formally online casinos are supposed to be blocked for the Ukrainian players. In fact, the players have the opportunity to gain access to any resource of this particular format. The exception is international online gambling operators, who are the ones who restrict the access for Ukrainian users to gambling entertainment.

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 even before. Once visa-free travel was introduced, the number of tourists heading for European states for these purposes skyrocketed. Legalisation of gambling from this standpoint would 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 joining the European Union, the Ukrainian government will have to adapt to the commission's requirements in any case. The fact that gambling in Ukraine is highly likely to get legal status once again can be seen from the eloquent speeches delivered by some high-ranking officials. The Prosecutor General of Ukraine, Yuri Lutsenko has stated that legalisation of gambling is necessary, provided that special gaming zones are organised. Minister of Finance Alexander Danilyuk and head of the Ukrainian government Vladimir Groisman, as well as many other influential Ukrainian politicians, have made similar statements. To summarise, one can say that the existing restrictions on gambling in the Ukraine do not solve the problems that they were initially designed to tackle - gambling fans will always find a way to get access to any types of gambling.