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Anton Kuchukhidze: Why have the attacks on the legal gambling business intensified?

In the first year, the gambling legalization reform has already demonstrated significant benefits for the State. Through the work of CRGL, the budget received more than UAH 1.7 billion in revenues from license fees alone, thousands of new jobs were created and millions of dollars were invested in the national economy. However, attacks on the legal gambling business continue. What is the reason?

The first year of operation of the legal gambling business turned out to be truly successful, especially considering the conditions of the market establishment. Everything that the leaders of the reform promised in terms of national budget revenues has been fulfilled. The Commission for the Regulation of Gambling and Lotteries has demonstrated its effectiveness by generating state revenues more than 12 times higher than UAH 137.5 million allocated for its operation.

The emergence of a new industry also contributed to enhanced business activity in other economy sectors. Legal gambling operators benefit from the services and interact with at least 15-20 other businesses areas. The cumulative economic effect of such interaction for 2021 is considered to be UAH 30 billion.

The results achieved during the first year of functioning of the legal gambling market clearly show that the reform has paid off. Then why is there so much criticism and negativity surrounding the reform and the legal gambling sector as a whole? There are two key reasons.

First, the attacks against the gambling business are purely political in nature. Any successful reform implemented by the current government is envied by the previous government, which is now the opposition. A number of politicians just cannot accept the fact that the current government managed to successfully implement the reform, which in the first year has generated significant budget revenues.

Second, out of 100 steps that needed to be taken for the successful implementation of the reform, the State and business took 99 steps, thus practically completing the establishment of a civilized gambling market. However, the 100th step that was not taken turned out to be one of the most important, namely, an unresolved issue of the adoption of the specialized draft law on gambling business taxation 2713-д.

The logic of the legislation implied that along with the legalization of gambling, there would also be a vote to regulate the legal gambling taxation. However, unfortunately, the vote on the draft law 2713-д on second reading was postponed several times. It is during such pauses that opponents are particularly active in criticizing legal gambling, stating that the reform has failed – a situation we are seeing today.

The adoption of 2713-д as drafted will mark a successful reform and further development of the legal gambling market in Ukraine. Given the public sensitivity to the issue, this will be another victory for the current government, which is the worst case scenario for the opposition hoping for the legal gambling market to exist as an illegal sector, as has been the case for more than 11 years.

The opponents of legalization will, of course, find ways to criticize gambling under any circumstances. However, the adoption of draft law 2713-д will significantly strengthen the reform and the market. This will also significantly reduce the room for manoeuvre for critics of the reform, since it will be increasingly difficult for them to pull off manipulative media attacks on a clearly successful reform.

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


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