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Effectiveness of the gambling sector depends on equal business rules for all

For the three years of the reform of the gaming business in Ukraine, quite a lot has already been done, and if not for the full-scale war, even more would have been achieved. However, three years is a sufficient period of time to draw certain conclusions about the changes in domestic gambling sector after more than eleven years of its legal prohibition and work exclusively in the underground.

Since the second half of 2020, after the adoption of the Law of Ukraine "On the State Regulation of Activities Regarding the Organization and Conduct of Gambling" No. 768-IX, the state has put things right in the approximately half of the field of gambling: the sector was legalized, revenues from licenses went to the state budget and taxes, the effectiveness of the national regulator is one of the highest among similar institutions, etc. In addition to that, since the beginning of the war, organizers that are legal entities began and continue to provide assistance to the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

If we evaluate what has been done in numbers, then in three years, according to the Commission for Regulation of Gambling and Lotteries:

- almost UAH 4.23 billion of license payments were credited to the state budget;

- 6,112 licenses and permits for business activities were issued;

- 7,579 appeals to the CRGL hotline from legal entities and individuals were processed;

- 56 regulatory and legal acts were developed;

- a register of persons restricted from access to gambling establishments and/or participation in gambling games was created, which includes data on 2,655 persons on the basis of 3,391 requests regarding the need for restriction or self-restriction;

- information on 2,077 illegal gambling web resources was discovered and handed over to law enforcement agencies;

- 16 memoranda, agreements and contracts on the organization of interaction, exchange of information and cooperation with various institutions, including international ones, were concluded.

It would seem that everything is steadily developing and improving. However, this is a somewhat misleading impression. Despite the rather high indicators of the successful progress of the reform, this is only half of what needs to be done for the final formation of a civilized gambling market in Ukraine.

Another 50% will be completed when the state get the fight against illegal businesses and lotteries under control. First of all, it is worth revitalizing the fight against illegal businesses in the online segment, where they surpass the legal ones in quantitative terms 1200:15 in favour of illegals. Currently, you can gamble on more than 1,200 illegal websites in Ukraine, while there are only 15 legal online gambling establishments.

However, the problem is not only in the illegal sites themselves. Because the law enforcement officers will be able to deal with the shadow market, if they have the desire and time. However, the situation is much more complicated with those who disguise themselves as legal gambling websites. Similar mimicry has been noted for several years in a row by lottery operators, who as early as 2002 were given the opportunity to conduct bookmaking activities (toto lotteries), organize the activities of slot machine halls (without limiting their number and binding to hotels, as is the case with legal organizers of the gambling market according to the license terms of operation) and online casinos (without limitation of the number of distributor websites). Accordingly, the state does not receive a penny from such activities.

A logical question arises, why do none of the Members of the Parliament who regularly express "concern" about the situation with the taxation of the gambling business systematically raise the issue of evasion of license fees and taxes by lottery operators? Let me remind you that the effectiveness of the gambling sector depends on the equal business rules for all. And the presence of certain privileges harms both business and the state.


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