President Volodymyr Zelensky has officially legalised gambling in Ukraine.
Ukraine.- The President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, has signed the Gambling Act passed by the Ukrainian Parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, last month.
Bill 2285-D was approved by the Ukrainian Parliament by 248 votes to 95 at its second reading last month.
President Zelensky was known to be in favour of regulating gambling in the country, and has now seen through a commitment to speed up legislation following several delays.
The Gambling Act legalises bookmaking, online gambling, gaming halls and land-based casinos, although the latter may only be located in hotels.
Lotteries are already legal in the country, but all other gambling was outlawed following a fire at a gaming hall in 2009.
The last draft presented to Parliament sets the fees for five-year licences at UAH30.7million (€1million) for online gaming, UAH70.8million (€2.2million) for bookmakers, UAH121.6million (€3.8million) for hotel casinos in the capital Kyiv, UAH70.8million (€2.2million) for hotel casinos elsewhere in the country, and UAH23.7million (€731,000) for online poker.
Only entities legally registered in Ukraine will be granted licences and there is a prohibition on Russian residents acting as shareholders or owners.
The Ukrainian Parliament must still decide on the taxation policy for gaming. Five rival bills have been put forward, with the latest by Oleg Marusyak proposing 5 per cent on GGR bookmaking, 10 per cent for online gambling and lotteries and 12.5 per cent for slot machines.
An earlier bill submitted by Marusyak together with Marian Zablotskyi proposed a flat 25 per cent rate on GGR for all gaming, while a proposal from Dmytro Natalukha suggests 7.5 per cent for bookmaking, 12.5 per cent for iGaming and 22 per cent for lotteries.
A less likely candidate submitted by Artem Dubnov sets no tax on GGR, proposing revenue be collected only through standard business and income taxes, plus licence fees.
Parimatch is the first operator to announce it will apply for a licence when the application process opens.
Chief Executive Sergey Portnov said: “I would firstly like to congratulate President Zelensky for delivering on his pledge to legalise gambling in Ukraine. He has a shown that he is a man of his word and we fully support his agenda to liberalise the local economy.
“Parimatch has long argued that the development of a fair and regulated betting industry will really benefit Ukraine.”
He noted that Parliament’s decision on what tax regime to adopt will be crucial for establishing the viability of regulated gambling, arguing that taxes in the country were currently “punitive and uncompetitive.”
He said: “We are fully committed to conquering our home market by delivering a product that can entertain the people of Ukraine. We are also proud that we can now contribute to the country’s economy and help grow its technology industry.
“However, for us to deliver these benefits in the long-term we need a fairer tax system which is currently too punitive and uncompetitive compared to similar international markets. It is vital that this is addressed as soon as possible to ensure the enduring viability of the industry in Ukraine.”