Exclusive interview.- Focus Gaming News speaks to Andrey Astapov, managing partner at Eterna Law and member of the Expert Advisory Council of the Gambling and Lottery Regulation Commission of Ukraine.
In an exclusive interview, Andrey Astapov and Focus Gaming News talked about the new gambling legislation in Ukraine and the benefits for international operators.
Eterna Law played an active role in the process leading to the approval of new gambling legislation in Ukraine last year. What were the challenges faced in developing an agreeable framework?
In recent weeks, the Gambling and Lottery Regulation Commission of Ukraine began to issue the first licenses. Soon, we will observe the full formation of the market, and its first positive effects on the Ukrainian economy.
But, before that, almost one year was dedicated to the development of the concept of gambling legalization and drafting of the law. As the team of Eterna Law already had legislative experience, – we joined the legislative working group in the Presidential office immediately after its creation and played a key role in the legalization process.
Such a long duration of legalization is determined by many factors. First of all, the main challenge was to consider and find the consensus between the sometimes conflicting opinions of various stakeholders – including such of the society, industry representatives, politicians and state bodies.
As a result, seven alternative draft laws with very different approaches were proposed to the Verkhovna Rada for consideration. Even when only one draft law was chosen, it was subject to almost 3,000 amendments already in the parliament.
So, as you may see, the development and adoption of the Gambling Law was a challenging and difficult process without any exaggeration. However, in the end, we have received good results and effective legalization of gambling in Ukraine.
How far does the new legislation depart from Ukraine’s previous gambling legislation before gambling was prohibited?
Gambling in Ukraine was officially prohibited since 2009. Before that, no legislation would provide a complex and proper regulation of the industry. Due to the gambling popularity at that time, the absence of such regulation resulted in total chaos within the industry.
Today, the situation is different. We have considered all past mistakes – as a result, the adopted Gambling Law provides clear and systematic regulation for all types of gambling.
Such a comprehensive approach should guarantee the proper functioning of the market as well as minimize the risks of possible violations. All gambling licenses will be issued by the Commission, which will also have the powers to supervise and control each gambling operator.
Did Ukraine look to any particular jurisdiction as a model for its new framework?
Of course, analysis of gambling regulations in other jurisdictions was the key thing while drafting the Gambling Law. Special attention was paid to the legislative frameworks of the UK, Malta, and the CIS countries as their experience of legalization proved to be successful. We have also attracted a range of leading foreign specialists in the gambling industry to this process.
With such an approach, we managed to consider and avoid the mistakes of other countries and achieve complex regulations for all types of gambling. As a result, the current Gambling Law was adopted with a commitment to the highest international industry standards and implements key safeguards to protect the interests of players and guarantee the prevention of ludomania.
What, if any, regulatory details do you believe still need to be clarified?
Besides the main Gambling Law, the Ukrainian parliament has also successfully adopted the licensing conditions for each type of gambling – which are the key secondary regulations specifying all regulatory procedures and details.
Still, some final steps are expected for the full understanding of how the market will be regulated and how it will function. At this moment, among the key things is the adoption of the tax regulation as well as the clarification of certification procedure for the gambling equipment.
What advice would you give to gaming operators who are looking to apply for licences under the new legislation?
The best advice is to make sure that the company and the application itself fully correspond to the legal requirements.
The Commission is very diligent about each application. So, any inaccuracy will result in the refusal to grant the license. To save your time and efforts – the best advice is to involve local lawyers and use their expert advice already at the stage when the company is just created.