Ukraine cracks down on illegal gambling

Police raided four gambling venues in Kyiv.
Police raided four gambling venues in Kyiv.

Unlicensed online gaming operators block access to sites and police raid illegal land-based gambling venues.

Ukraine.- Unlicensed gambling, both online and land-based, is being targeted in a series of crackdowns in Ukraine. The national gambling regulator KRAIL has reported 72.3 per cent of unlicensed online gambling operators have blocked local access to their websites after being contacted in the last even months.

Meanwhile, the Bureau of Economic Security (ESBU) has shut down four illegal land-based gambling venues in Kyiv. Detectives from the bureau’s territorial administration raided venues in the Shevchenkivskyi, Solomyanskyi and Svyatoshynskyi districts, seizing 120 pieces of computer equipment estimated to be worth UAH1.5m (€37,000).

The venues were allegedly being run without gambling licences or legal company registration. Mainly located on the ground floors of residential buildings, they were monitored by security guards and 24-hour video surveillance. They would only open to known customers after the midnight curfew.

Police said they are creating a list of people suspected of being involved in the operations. Detectives from the Security Intelligence Service in Kyiv will continue the investigation under the guidance of the Kyiv city prosecutor’s office under Part 1 of Article 203-2 of the Criminal Code.

The action follows police raids on an underground casino and seven gambling venues in June. Ukraine’s current gambling legislation, introduced in 2020, allows slot machines only in three to five-star hotels and casinos only in four to five-star hotels.

Earlier this month, the Ukrainian parliament reintroduced an 18 per cent tax on the turnover of online casino operators. The government expects the move to generate at least UAH 1.5bn ($41m) a year in fiscal revenue.

In other developments, new anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing (AML/CTF) legislation has come into effect in Ukraine, including new rules for inspections of gambling operators. Operators can be subject to both planned and unplanned inspections by KRAIL.

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gambling regulation KRAIL