Ukraine to consider online gambling ban for military

Ukraine to consider online gambling ban for military

President Volodymyr Zelensky received a petition from a Ukrainian soldier.

Ukraine.- President Volodymyr Zelensky is reportedly considering a call to ban online gambling for members of the armed forces. A petition on the matter started by a solider had quickly surpassed the 25,000 signatures necessary to qualify for presidential consideration.

Pavlo Petrychenko, a member of the 59th brigade, said he aimed to raise awareness of “the harm that the gambling business causes to the Ukrainian army and Ukrainian society”. He called for online gambling to be banned for all military personnel by martial law.

He said that for some service personnel, gambling becomes a way to cope with stress and quickly causes dopamine addiction, weakening self-control. He cited cases of soldiers spending their salaries on gambling and having to take out loans, leading to debt and the temptation to pawn military equipment “harming not only themselves, but also their fellow citizens”.

The soldier said that some gambling companies were specifically aiming marketing at members of the armed forces by using military symbols and “whitewashing” their business through small charitable donations. He also suggested that Russian gambling operators were targeting Ukrainian soldiers in order to access personal data.

As well as the ban on gambling, the petition calls for a ban on charitable assistance from gambling operators and rules to prohibit pawnshops from accepting drones and thermal imaging devices.

In his address on April 2, President Zelensky said: “I have instructed the chief of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), the Special Communications Service, the Digital Transformation Ministry and the secretary of the National Security and Defence Council to collect all the analytics on this issue and propose a solution next week.”

Ukraine re-regulated gambling in July 2020. Last month, the Economic Security Bureau of Ukraine (ESBU) said it had seized UAH700m (€17.3m) from an account belonging to a gambling operator due to alleged tax evasion. It did not name the company involved, describing it only as a leading operator in the Ukrainian market.

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