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Ukraine says Yes in Online and Land-based Gambling Regulation

Ukraine says Yes in Online and Land-based Gambling Regulation

Ukraine’s legislature, the Verkhovna Rada, has passed a bill to regulate both online and land-based gambling with 248 votes.

The new version of the bill allows gambling advertising but also decreases license fees. Originally introduced in 2019, Bill 2285-D, was pushed forward by Oleg Marusyak. Although it initially failed to pass at first reading in December of that year, it passed in another vote in January 2020 after some amendments including raising the legal age to gamble to 21.

All gambling except state-run lotteries became illegal in Ukraine in 2009, after nine people were killed in a fire at a slots parlour in Dnipropetrovsk in the east of the nation, but the country has looked to reintroduce legal gambling since 2015, when a new bill to legalise and regulate gambling activities across the country was introduced.

Online gambling, bookmaking and land-based casinos would all be legal under the bill, but casinos may only be located in hotels. This version of the bill also sets out restrictions on the origin and ownership of businesses in the market. The bill stated that all operators and slot machine suppliers “must not be controlled by residents of an occupying state and/or the aggressor state in relation to Ukraine”.

The version of the bill passed by the committee said the parliamentary Committee on Finance, Tax and Customs Policy may appoint members of a Tender Commission, which then elects the chairman and members of the Gambling Commission.

However, the legal committee of the Rada said that this is unconstitutional, as creation of a regulator is an executive function and a committee of the legislature does not have this power in its formation. It is not yet clear whether the Rada passed an amendment to address this.

The Rada must now pass another act to setting out how the industry will be taxed. Currently, there are five different gambling tax bills for the Rada to consider.

The bill would still need to be signed by President Volodymir Zelensky to come into effect. Zelensky has been a vocal supporter of regulated gambling in the past.

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