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Anton Kuchukhidze: Gambling business in Ukraine continues to develop and stabilize

There was a lot of fuss about the latest news regarding CRGL. Let’s use logic, not emotions, and stop stigmatizing the whole sector because of one person.

The most important criterion for performance of the new political elite under President Zelensky is that the top-down system has no untouchables. The reaction of the Chairman of the Gambling Commissionto the recent events confirms the concept of the new ruling elite: “I have never tolerated betrayal of principles by others and will not tolerate them in the future. The Gambling and Lotteries Regulation Commission does not and will not have “untouchables.” Regardless of status and position, anyone who dares to steal will bear personal responsibility.”

The authorities have the right attitude – nobody will be “covered”, and the law enforcement agencies will do their work within their competence.

Will the latest news regarding CRGL affect the reform? Of course not. One person will not stop the state apparatus, since the legalization of gambling has many advantages:

(1) it increased the country’s budget revenues by UAH 1 billion only from license payments;

(2) the budget revenues from gambling-related spheres is more than UAH 20 billion;

(3) all gambling equipment is certified;

(4) the access of children to legal halls is limited through a verification system;

(5) the current gambling market has corrected the mistakes of the legal market before 2009, when slot machines were at every corner, by increasing social responsibility.

What to look for and what to work on? The attention should be definitely paid to development, not ballast. The system will remove the ballast or it will fall off on its own.

That is why, dear media and expert community, let’s discuss issues important for the country and essential for improving the reform:

(1) draft law 2713-d should be protected against attacks: the basic parameters and the fact that the bill had passed the first reading have become a good signal for Western investors that will increase the country’s budget revenues and the quality of the gambling market itself;

(2) information warfare should be conducted against illegal actors. Law enforcement officials shut down several illegal gambling halls every week, and rightly so. This gives confidence to domestic and foreign investors. The Constitution states that the State must ensure fair competition for any business-related activity;

(3) awareness should be raised among people about the proper gambling culture. The key here is for people to understand that gambling is entertainment, not the way to make money. It will take time to establish this culture; such strategic things do not happen overnight;

(4) the Self-Exclusion Register needs to be improved;

(5) a public online monitoring system should be established.

The State will only benefit from professionals doing their job, and not politicizing the reform. The gambling business legalization with all the pros and cons is an excellent example of Ukraine’s ability to fight corruption. Good luck to our country!

Anton Kuchukhidze, Chairman of the Ukrainian Gambling Council, exclusively for the “Ukrainian News”


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