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It's time to equate lotteries with gambling at the legislative level


When we look at the set of issues the legal gambling market currently faces besides the war, the fight against illegal businesses ranks at least second. In addition to that, the people imagine illegal gambling businesses as obscure gambling halls with old computers in basements or online platforms with bright names and extremely intrusive advertising. However, in the context of Ukraine, one should not forget about the third, less obvious, but no less dangerous type of illegal gambling businesses: lottery organizers.

All over the civilized world, lotteries are recognized as gambling. This means that they pay appropriate taxes and license fees, comply with clear legal norms, are subject to monitoring, GGR, etc. Failure to comply with the relevant terms and conditions leads to large fines, loss of licenses and closure of businesses.

Civilized gambling markets in European countries operate according to these rules. Unfortunately, this is exactly what our market lacks. The lack of a clear regulatory framework for lotteries and the political will to finally implement it leads to a number of adverse phenomena that can turn into systemic ones and undermine all the achievements of the reform.

I will briefly dwell only on the most obvious violations.

1. Lotteries imitate gambling without obtaining relevant licenses. This phenomenon is most widespread in imitating gambling on slot machines, bookmaker bets and online casinos.

2. In addition to lacking gambling licenses, lottery operators do not have lottery licenses as well. A number of state lotteries have been operating without the relevant licenses for 10 years, thus providing zero revenue to the state budget annually.

3. Lottery operators actively cooperate with land-based illegal gambling businesses to simulate gambling through "instant lotteries". Therefore, they violate the law, and even actually finance and support the existence of illegal land-based gambling.

It should be noted that when the law on the legalization of gambling was passed, lotteries were not recognized as gambling through a certain political compromise. According to this compromise, in order not to delay the legalization of other types of gambling, the development of full-fledged regulatory legislation for lotteries was to be done a little later. However, it never happened. In addition to that, a number of high-ranking persons, such as Danylo Hetmantsev, exert pressure on the legal gambling business in every possible way, trying to close it down. However, lotteries, most of which have ties with Russians, quietly continue to work illegally, providing gambling services.

Thus, we have the following situation: the industry, which has provided UAH 4.2 billion of revenue to the budget for 3 years of its existence, and managed to fulfil the budget revenue targets set by the state even during the war, feels constant pressure on itself - political, economic and public. Lotteries do whatever they want and break the law and pay no licensing fees or taxes. At the same time, there is not a single MP who would pay attention to this, propose a public discussion of the problem or introduce a draft law to resolve the situation. Regulatory bodies also do not exert any pressure on lotteries, for example, to pay license fees for 10 years or obtain relevant licenses to organize and conduct gambling. Undoubtedly, this is absurd.

Recognizing lotteries as gambling should be an effective solution to the problem. This requires political will and making simple amendments to the legislation. This will allow solving several problems at once: force lotteries to obtain appropriate licenses, get rid of those who do not want to legalize, and partially reduce the pressure on the legal market from illegal businesses, thus balancing the working conditions for law-abiding businesses.

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