Ukraine has been strongly anti-gambling, both online and land-based since a fatal fire broke out in casino back in 2009.
The fire resulted in the loss of nine lives and the public outcry was violent and unshakeable. Their calls for a ban on all forms of gambling ultimately led to the then President Viktor Yushchenko signed the law "On Prohibition of Gambling Business in Ukraine" into power less than 60 days after the tragic event.
Turning Over a New Leaf
Just over a decade one from that fatal day in Dnipro, Spaceiks LLC has been nominated as Ukraine’s first licenced online casino operator since 2009.
Sergey Potapov, Chief Executive, said:
“Obtaining a license is an important step, the road to legalization has been long, but the creation of a white market is totally worth it. We should also pay tribute to the Commission – it’s great when a government authority works quickly and accurately.”
The honour of being an approved Ukraine gambling operator comes with a steep price tag, the company will have to handover the tidy sum of $1.1 million in order to finalise the processing of their 5-year gambling license.
Despite the very real financial value of their gambling licenses the Ukrainian Commission for the Regulation of Gambling and Lotteries (KRAIL) is proving to prioritise the right partnerships above quick cash grabs.
To date KRAIL has served five companies with outright rejections of their applications, even Spaceiks was rejected three times before finally receiving approval from KRAIL. This speaks volumes of this newest gambling regulators desire to serve both the country’s financial needs while protecting its residents at the same time. A truly laudable stance.
New or Old Boots On The Ground?
While the initial applications, and the single successful operator, are focused on establishing an online gambling presence in Ukraine the newly minted law “On State Regulation of Organising and Conducting Gambling” also includes the re-legalisation of land-based gambling.
Under the new Gambling Act gaming halls, slots halls and casinos are once again legally allowed to operate on Ukrainian soil, however, they need to be part of a hotel. It will be interesting to follow the re-emergence of gambling in Ukraine to see if the land-based casino industry sees investment from local sources or if international gambling companies such as the Sands Group see it as a viable expansion location.
An important factor in both the growth of the online and land-based gambling market will be where the country lands in terms of its taxation of gambling entities. At present they have fixed their licensing fees but do not have an approved tax proposal.