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Similarities in using gambling services in Ukraine and Sweden

Legal gambling has been in Ukraine for only two years, and it still has some “childhood diseases” related to state regulation of the sector and the behaviour of market representatives and gamblers. And if one needs political will to resolve some of the issues, other problems may be resolved at the level of gambling companies and gamblers.

Analysing the situation with illegal gambling establishments in Ukraine, I came across an interesting study carried out by the national regulator of the gambling market in Sweden.

As part of the study, more than 1,600 respondents were asked about their gambling habits. The results turned out to be interesting. In particular, 53% of respondents admitted to understanding the benefits of using licensed gambling platforms. However, only 10% of respondents noted that they could distinguish a legal gambling operator from an illegal one. At the same time, 21% of respondents did not care whether a gambling operator even had a license.

According to the study, gamblers’ low awareness of how to distinguish a licensed gambling operator from an unlicensed one has continued over the past few years. These are low numbers for a market with 72% of adults gambling.

Although only about 8% of adults gamble in Ukraine, we also face this negative trend. Gamblers still pay very little attention to whether a gambling establishment is legal and often do not know how to tell the difference between legal and illegal operators.

I found this out first-hand. I recently talked to my friend who used to play football and is now into sports betting. Apparently, he had been gambling on a Russian bookmaker’s website for some time because he had not found out whether the platform was legal in Ukraine.

It allows us to talk about two key trends. First, gamblers are really bad at distinguishing legal gambling operators from illegal ones or devote little time to analysing the platforms they choose. Second, even despite the war, illegal operators continue to operate actively in the Ukrainian market, especially in the online segment. However, finding a solution to this situation is easier than it seems. It lies in the synergy between the State, licensees, and gamblers.

As a market regulator, the State should continue to actively fight illegal gambling operators and strengthen its control over the online segment.

Licensed gambling operators must direct their marketing and advertising campaigns to attract more gamblers and explain the benefits of using their services and not those of illegal operators. In the early stages of market formation, this educational function of business is crucial.

Before choosing a platform, gamblers must check whether it is legal. The easiest way to do this is to visit the Commission for Regulation of Gambling and Lotteries website at the link.

Of course, changing gamblers’ behavioural habits is a long process. However, if we intend to build a civilized gambling market in Ukraine, it must be done. After all, the success of the fight against illegal operators depends on this. The more gamblers understand the advantages of gambling with legal operators and know how to distinguish them from illegal ones, the fewer potential customers illegal operators have. It also makes the sector more transparent and attractive to foreign investment.


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