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Anton Kuchukhidze: Three reasons why the State will protect the legalization of gambling

Following the adoption of the draft law 2713-d in the first reading, when the reform received a new boost, media attacks on the legal gambling business resumed. The old elites hoped that the reform would fail, however, its effectiveness is permanently increasing.

Ukraine’s current state system is capable to protect the gambling industry. Let us go over the basic points in the process of gambling legalization, which confirm that the new elites began this process to achieve the following threeState-oriented aspirations:

(1) Widespread unshadowing of the economy and the fight against corruption. For the first time in the past 12 years, gambling has returned to the legal field; the authorities struck all sorts of corrupt schemesbeneficial for bribe-takers. Thus, this reform is about restoring order in the country – something that Ukraine’s old elite was so reluctant to do.

(2) Strengthening the social protection of citizens and children. As the decision taken in 2009 demonstrated, it is impossible to shut down the gambling business completely. The “closure” resulted in schemes enriching everyone but the State while denying social protection to the society. Since the end of 2019, the authorities began to close illegal casinos, and the adoption of the specialized law introduced mechanisms for the protection of children and gambling addicts. The State began to control the gambling business and stopped the bacchanalia. Ukraine has embarked on the path of the civilized development of gambling.

(3) Attracting and protecting investments. Along with the social protection of citizens, the State will protect the legal gambling business, especially from offline and online illegal actors. Ukraine has one of the most expensive licenses in both Europe and the world. To open a land-based casino in Kyiv, one needs to pay UAH 360 million (over EUR 11.2 million), and that is just the price of a 5-year license; to become a betting operator, one must pay UAH 540 million (over EUR 16 million; betting operators are now paying a triple license); online casinos must pay UAH 117 million (over EUR 3.6 million, they also pay a triple license); slot machine halls must pay UAH 45 million (over EUR 1.4 million); and in case of online poker, the license costsUAH 30 million (over EUR 937,000).

What is the cost of licenses in Europe?

Belgium – EUR 12,000;

Bulgaria – EUR 50,000;

France – no license fee;

Greece – EUR 2 million for offline casinos and EUR 3 million for betting;

Italy – more than EUR 260,000;

Romania – from EUR 6,000 up to 120,000;

Slovakia – from EUR 3 up to 5 million;

Great Britain – depends on the GGR indicators, but on average: from EUR 1,000 up to 700,000.

Several Western gambling companies have already started working in Ukraine, and a dozen more are waiting for the final tax rates. This means that the investors believe Ukrainian authorities and are willing to launch their full-fledged activities. The investor also believes in the potential of the Ukrainian gambling market, which may become Eastern Europe’s gambling hub.

The State will protect investments, because this is the country’s image, and following the successful launch of the gambling market, it is now possible to show Ukraine as a responsible partner for investors. Also, we need to understand that due to the gambling legalization, money flowed into the hotel business, IT sector, media, and many other related fields.

As seen from the abovementioned, this reform is not about players losing money, it is about improving the efficiency and Ukraine’s image; it is about the country starting to attract real investments into its economy, and not waiting for loans. Domestic reforms result in the economic success of the State, as well as strengthen its role on the international stage.

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


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