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Lottery operators dream of returning to the times of grey business

Each action has its counteraction. And even if we are talking about positive changes, there will always be certain groups of people whose interests will prevent their implementation. This is exactly the situation that has developed in the legal gambling market since the first days after the adoption of the law on the legalization of gambling in Ukraine. After all, legalization dealt a direct blow to the illegal gambling businesses, which earned hundreds of million dollars of non-taxable earnings at illegal gambling establishments and online platforms for more than 10 years. Lottery operators that simulate gambling without paying the corresponding license fees and taxes are on the side of the illegal market as well.

In 2020, the Ukrainian authorities counted on the legalization of gambling, actually offering all companies to do business legally, pay taxes and license fees, and build a civilized gambling market in the country. Companies that had been waiting for legalization for many years immediately received the appropriate licenses, providing several billion hryvnias to the state budget. However, there were also those who saw the reform as a "threat" to their excess profits.

In addition to that, illegal businesses do not want to operate in the legal space, and even actively create obstacles to the legal gambling business. Various methods are used against legal gambling organizers: negative PR, blatant manipulations in the information space, replication of fake theses by so-called experts. Lottery operators are related to the process of discrediting the legal market. They have learned to successfully manipulate issues of "non-payment of taxes" and disguise the provision of services in the field of online casinos and slot machines as lottery activities.

In this context, a logical question arises: why do they allow themselves to do that? I have repeatedly emphasized that no one seems to notice the illegal activities of lotteries. That is, everyone focuses on the problems of the legal market and manipulates the issues of taxes or the expansion of gambling addiction by legal organizers. At the same time, no one discusses the issue of illegal activities of unlicensed gaming service providers, including lotteries. Just as no one speaks about the "state" lotteries, which actually have capital of Russian origin and are controlled by certain private individuals. The fact that there is no public criticism means only one thing - they have the influence of political coordinators.

The second important question is the following: why are illegal businesses so interested in an alliance with lottery operators? Even in the absence of corresponding license conditions, lottery operators work under KVED 92.00, namely the organization of gambling games, and manage to simulate betting pairs, slot machines and online casinos on their online platforms. Do they pay the appropriate taxes or license fees as legal gambling operators? Of course not.

Now imagine if the license conditions for lotteries were adopted without taking into account the risks of simulation of gambling. Traditionally, such conditions will be simpler, and the licenses themselves cost many times less than licenses for the organization and conduct of gambling. As soon as this happens, all land-based illegal businesses will begin to work under the licenses of lottery operators, simulating providing services in the field of slot machines or online casinos in their illegal halls.

Returning to the times of total "backing" of businesses and "schemes" in the gambling market is a dead-end road. That is why we cannot allow the situation when illegal businesses will be strengthened with the help of lottery licenses and actually "legalize" the shadow business, while avoiding the payment of the corresponding license fees and taxes. This will put legal gambling organizers in an extremely difficult position and create uneven conditions in the market that will quickly lead to the rollback of the reform and negating its positive results.


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