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The Actual Ukraine’s Gambling Legislation

Published on January 18, 2020, 4:38 pm

by Jeff Grant Twitter account Jeff Grant LinkedIn account

In May 2009, a huge fire swept through a gambling hall in the administrative town of Dnipropetrovsk, Ukraine. A total of nine people died, and this led to a long battle between gambling bodies, gamblers, and the government. All forms of gambling other than very few selected ones were banned on May 15, 2009.

Over the 10 years that gambling has been banned in Ukraine, a multi-million-dollar illegal gambling industry has risen. Many of the outlets for gambling activities in the countries are private lottery tickets selling shops. Lottery was not banned. Many of these lottery outlets have secretly been operating gambling machines and casinos.

The crackdown on gambling in Ukraine

The rise of illegal gambling across the county forced President Zelensky to order a crackdown on all gambling halls by December 2019. This led to the closure of at least 900 businesses, confiscation of expensive gambling equipment, and hundreds of arrests. Some private lotteries faced complete shutdown while those people found guilty of any of the anti-gambling offences faced jail time of between 3 and 5 years.


For many years, gambling bodies such as CASEXE, a leading European manufacturer of software for the gambling market, have been lobbying the government to legalize and regulate gambling. However, political elite and favored parties such as lotteries have been unwilling to share the spoils of the market with the competition, gambling firms. This has led to protracted behind the scene wars that eventually led to the crackdown.

According to CASEXE and other players, the political elite has been looking to show that it cares about the population and the negative consequences that come with gambling legalization. However, this premise has been fought and eventually defeated since studies show there are more advantages than disadvantages that come with adopting the law than the lack of such law altogether.

President Zelenskiy threatened that the existing anti-gambling laws would be enforced to the letter if a framework for legal gambling in the country was not adopted. This saw the pro-legalizing gambling lobbyists and gambling bodies get their voices heard.

The legalization of gambling in Ukraine

On January 17, 2020, Ukraine’s legislative body approved a gambling bill that would see the legalization of gambling in Ukraine after a decade. In its first reading, the bill got 260 out of 450 votes. The bill 2285-D, which was introduced by Oleg Marusyak, is one of the six alternatives to the country’s reforms.

Verkhovna Rada - unicameral parliament of Ukraine
Verkhovna Rada - the unicameral parliament of Ukraine approved the bill 2285-D about the gambling activities (also online)

What the bill talks about

The 2285-D bill recommends a lower license of UAH6.7m or €249,000, for online gambling as compared to other alternatives. The bill further includes a minimum license fee of UAH41.7m for casinos located in hotels with 200-250 rooms. For those with more than 250 rooms, the suggested fee is UAH62.5m. These fees will be used to influence and adjust the country’s inflation and minimum wage.

In the bill, bookmaker licenses will be determined by allowing each licensee to have the right to open 5 bookmarking shops. A total of 32 bookmarking licenses would be allocated in Kyiv, and 16 between Ode and Kharkov. The rest of the country will get to enjoy their bookmaker bonuses from 32 shops. Other requirements attached to the bill are a gambling age of 21 and a maximum of 40,000 gambling machines in the country.

Support for the legalization

Many gambling bodies, including Parimatch, an eastern Europe operator, hailed the passing of the first reading of the bill. The firm said that boosts not only the Ukrainian economy but also creates a basis for creating a fair and transparent gambling industry. This will, in turn, attract investment and bring new technology to Ukraine.

According to Parimatch, legalizing regular and online gambling will help create thousands of jobs across the country. It will also increase tourism and even help fight corruption in professional sports across the county. The quality of sports is also expected to improve due to better funding and sponsorships.


Ukraine is at a critical stage when the necessary laws regulating not only the gambling firms, but lovers of gambling and the whole process get discussed. It is for this reason that players such as Parimatch and other stakeholders are willing to offer their expertise in the making of a sound framework. Some of the players have global expertise, and the country can harness this expertise and experience to serve its people at best. With more political elite behind the legalization of the industry, the Ukrainian government is almost certain to deliver an Act before 2020 ends.


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