Ukrainian regulator seeks isolation of Russia from gambling sphere

Ukrainian regulator seeks isolation of Russia from gambling sphere

The acting head of the regulator said the isolation of Russia is KRAIL’s main priority.

Ukraine.- The acting director of the Ukrainian Commission for the Regulation of Gambling and Lotteries (KRAIL) Olena Vodolashko said that the “isolation of Russia in the gambling sphere” is the key priority for her commission.

In an interview with the news agency Ukrinform, Vodolashko detailed KRAIL’s work overseeing the newly regulated gambling industry during the ongoing war with Russia. She said KRAIL had made appeals to the international gaming community to cut business relationships with Russia and apply sanctions against Russian entities. She also described a focus on tackling Russian money laundering.

Ukraine re-legalised gambling with new legislation passed in 2020. The law already included rules preventing Russian-controlled businesses from entering the market as a sanction relating to the Russian occupation of Crimea.

Vodolashko said: “Since 24 February, our priority has become the isolation of Russia in the gambling sphere. The commission called on the international gambling community to join sanctions and limit the participation of residents of the Russian Federation in gaming with the introduction of appropriate changes to the rules of gambling organisers.”

Vodolashko also said the regulator was appealing to the European community. She said: “The Commission appealed to the European Forum of Gambling Business Regulators (GREF) to support Ukraine and disseminate relevant information regarding Russian military aggression.

“The Association of European Lotteries (EL) also supported our country and suspended the membership of lottery operators from Russia and Belarus. We also appealed to the representatives of foreign companies supplying software regarding the termination of partnership and business relations with the Russian Federation.”

In August, the head of the Ukrainian Gambling Council, Anton Kuchukhidze, told that the regulator had resumed its regulatory duties although its resources had been impacted like those of all areas of government. 

He noted that land-based gambling had resumed in the west of Ukraine but business remained deeply affected by the war. Meanwhile, the gambling market remained severely disrupted in occupied eastern cities like Kherson and Mykolaiv.

Kuchukhidze said: “In the west of Ukraine, of course, the situation is better. Both casinos and slot machine halls function there, but, obviously, the tourist flow of people has fallen, and according to the law, casinos and slot machines can only be located in hotels.

“We recognise that because of the war, not many tourists are ready to visit us. Therefore, the number of visitors to gambling halls has decreased significantly.”

He said KRAIL was committed to restoring the gambling market alongside other domestic industries where possible. He added that the regulator would continue to work towards market reforms agreed upon last year.

The Gambling Supervisory Authority in Lithuania and KRAIL have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). The agreement will see them work together on certain aspects of the supervision of gambling and lottery.

The regulators will exchange information, ideas and best practice with the intention of expanding their knowledge of the industry, improving each country’s gambling sector, and ensuring the optimum implementation of relevant laws.

Experts from each regulator will also collaborate on the exchange of legal information, details of regulatory practice and other issues. They will also take part in joint seminars, lectures and staff exchanges.

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