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How behind-the-scenes manoeuvres destroy investments in Ukraine

The Committee on Finance, Tax and Customs Policy of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine has recently supported a draft law on the liquidation of the Commission for the Regulation of Gambling and Lotteries (CRGL). This is a very strange story, as CRGL is net positive from the point of view of the budget revenue: revenues from CRGL far exceed expenses for its activities. Moreover, it works as an axiom each year.

What is really happening? Hetmantsev is taking revenge on CRGL, because he failed to legalize the black and grey schemes of lottery operators for three years. Lottery operators did not want to pay for any licenses, but wanted to engage in five types of gambling activities, which they actually do. You can go to any gas station and gamble. There is Zabava lottery for you, and here we go. By the way, currently, the lotteries are in no way limited by legislation in the field of advertising too.

They failed to force through this grey scheme in the license terms. Many times, Mr. Hetmantsev directly obstructed, for example, the implementation of the tax reform for the gambling sector, set out to disturb the market. According to informal instructions from above, tax attacks on the gambling business were arranged. All the above was done in order to destroy the industry, to show the President of Ukraine that the reform purportedly failed, so everything must be returned to the black hands of the lottery operators. The plan failed, so the lottery pool led by Hetmantsev is in agony.

The Ministry of Digital Transformation has its own political ambition to organize and administer everything attractive and positive that exists in the state, and gambling is no exception. Thus, in this way, through the "good" rhetoric of reforming the sector, they are trying to rearrange the market to serve the interests of certain players. This is given a "good appearance" – informatization of processes, purging corruption factors, etc.

Indeed, the CRGL was involved in one corruption scandal, and all law enforcement agencies worked it out. There were no more issues. This state body has high indicators of anti-corruption activities. Last year, the CRGL took the sixth place among a large number of state bodies in terms of efficiency in anti-corruption activities. Therefore, it is not clear what kind of corruption they will fight against.

There is another manipulation: using loud slogans about the liquidation of the CRGL, they actually want to reorganize this state body into an agency. That is, despite the political interest, it is still very difficult to argue with the fact that it is difficult to completely eliminate an effective body. Therefore, they are trying to turn CRGL into an agency for manual control and to promote their own interests, while the interests of the state are not prioritized. How will the agency implement, for example, the introduction of the State Online Monitoring System? How will it administer this process? How will the agency fight against illegal gambling businesses, because just an automatic program will not be able to perform the amount of work that is specified directly as Commission's functionality? How will the automatic program monitor and control various processes in the field of gambling? These questions remain open in the draft law.

Finally, the icing on the cake. What did Hetmantsev and Co. actually do? They killed the investment of the company from the Arab Emirates, by committing another attack on the CRGL and the industry. According to insiders, they ruined the purchase of Kozatskyi and Ukraina hotels by companies from the UAE, and in this way blocked the investment of billions of hryvnias in Ukraine during the war. This is not only about buying a hotel, but about creating a casino in a new five-star hotel and about developing the industry in terms of the number of gambling establishments that could be attractive to players, especially in the post-war period. This project would offer international quality services directly in the gambling market, not just in the hotel market. Therefore, we "thank" the political ambitions and narrowly selfish goals of the above-mentioned persons.

It is necessary to understand that it is not only about the CRGL, it is about the logic of state administration. When you attack an effective government agency, it is the state that suffers. So, it will be interesting to see how Hetmantsev and Co. will be able to regain interest in Ukraine from foreign investors. To be honest, this group has no interest in attracting investments in Ukraine. Their goal is to bring back the grey and black market and pay neither licenses nor taxes.

Therefore, we must continue the fight for the legal gambling market. No matter how much it is criticized, but it gradually removes the corruption in this area, which has been created for decades.


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