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About the development of gambling and equal competitive conditions for all market players

The development of the gambling sector largely depends on the initiative of the authorities, the modern legislative framework, and the willingness of officials to get involved in the process.

The advantages of the development of the gambling business are obvious: making payments to the country's budget, creation of transparent conditions for attracting investments, and the growth of budget revenues. As a result, the legal sphere of new market operators will be expanded and new players will be attracted.

We can say that gambling tomorrow means work today. Changes are needed in the Ukrainian gambling industry. They are long overdue.

Legislators, as we can see, pay attention to gambling only on a leftover basis and do not listen to the calls of experts and industry participants. However, there is a lot to be solved. For example, draft Law No. 10101 "On Improving the Legislation of Ukraine in the Field of Organizing and Conducting Gambling and State Lotteries", submitted for consideration to the Verkhovna Rada, in essence lobbies the development of one component of gambling: the lottery business. Lottery sellers find themselves in a winning position compared to other players in the gaming industry.

The draft law proposes to further soften and simplify taxation, cancel inspections, fines and cancel licenses for those who develop lotteries in Ukraine. There are still two such operators in the national market. It is obvious that the lobbying of this segment will create the ground for losses in other sectors of the gambling market. For lottery operators, the cost of licenses for a year, in case of the adoption of draft law 10101, will amount to UAH 19.88 million. While licenses cost UAH 127.8 million hryvnias per year for bookmakers, UAH 27.69 million for online casinos, UAH 42 million for slot halls for one license per 250 slot machines per year.

Such a balance of numbers indicates one thing, that someone is very interested in supporting the development of the lottery business. Let me remind you that draft Law 10101 was initiated by the Committee of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine on Finance, Tax and Customs Policy led by Danylo Hetmantsev.

In addition to that, for example, lotteries can accept online and offline bets on sports on par with bookmakers, work without cash registers. They actually can invade the territory of other types of gambling, while paying very modest license fees by the standards of this business.

Lottery tickets can be purchased by persons from 18 years of age, their sale can be organized anywhere, not necessarily in hotels. The Commission for Regulating of Gambling and Lotteries (CRGL) has no leverage over this part of the gambling business. That is, if this draft law is adopted, the lotteries will immediately start making money, without actually investing anything in the development of the industry, without shaping the country's economy, without providing revenues to the budget, without reporting on their activities.

In addition to that, this draft law, instead of expanding the possibilities of legal development of gambling in Ukraine, introduces "additional requirements for licensees in the field of organizing gambling and lotteries." This is a quote from the explanatory note to draft Law 10101 on the website of the Ukrainian Parliament.

Current gambling market comprises, in particular, 1,200 illegal online casino websites, as opposed to 14 that have licenses to conduct their activities. Therefore, to expand this list with the uncontrolled operation of lotteries means only to create opportunities for the formation of a black market of profits, to bring the payment of licenses and taxes into the "shadow".

However, despite how serious the issue is, we still do not see a particular interest among the MPs to familiarize themselves with a number of problems and introduce, for example, an alternative draft law that would equalize the starting positions for all participants of the gambling market.

We should not also forget that according to the practice worldwide lotteries are a part of gambling, which have no preferences in the legislative framework of a particular country. This is the sphere in which they earn, pay winnings and taxes and conduct business in competitive conditions.

Finally, in a recent opinion poll conducted by Sociopolis research company in December this year, individual entrepreneurs (39% of respondents among all the polled) demonstrated the most negative attitude towards the activities of member of the Parliament Danylo Hetmantsev.


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