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Gambling legalization in Ukraine: Changes May Be Coming

  • The gambling legalization bill in Ukraine passed the first reading
  • Lawmakers plan to reauthorize almost all forms of gambling
  • License fees vary from $30,000 to $1,000,000
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After a 10-year shutdown, the Ukrainian government is planning to give the gambling industry a green light. The Verkhovna Rada has recently approved the bill on gambling legalization in Ukraine. The 2020 version of the bill contains a new age limit, rules and regulations on casino placement, and gambling license fees. Following the reauthorization of legal gambling, the industry is expected to bring $1,000,000,000 to $1,500,000,000 in revenue. 

Brief history

In 2009, the Ukrainian government passed the law that permitted regulated horse racing, roulette, and slots, along with card and dice games. Despite relatively loose regulations, illegal gambling and underground casinos were still blooming.

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The gambling industry faced a shutdown in 2009,  after the mass shooting in a slot hall in Dnipropetrovsk. As a result, the Ukrainian government passed legislation that prohibited all forms of gambling, including online gambling and Internet betting. National Lottery, which was the only exception from the rule, soon became a loophole for “underground casinos”.

Gambling legalization in Ukraine – a new attempt

The first version of the bill dated December 19, 2019, didn’t pass the Verkhovna Rada. After the long process of improvement and shutdown of more than 5000 unregulated casinos, a new version of a bill passed the Parliament on January 16, 2020.

According to the new piece of legislation, five-star hotels can now accommodate land-based casinos; moreover, three- and four-star hotels will be able to place slot machines in special halls. Following new regulations, the government decided to raise the age limit to 21 years.

New year, new regulations

Such forms of gambling as online casinos, online poker, and sports betting are going to be absolutely legal as long as they are provided by licensed firms. Hotels will have to pay a $1,000,000 license fee for land-based casinos in cities like Kyiv, Kharkiv and Odessa, and around $500,000 in smaller towns. Online gambling sites in Ukraine will have to pay a minimum of $30,000 to operate on the Internet. Currently,  1xBET is the most popular gambling site in Ukraine. Ironically, the only form of gambling that will remain prohibited is the National Lottery.

The government will also create the new Gambling Commission which will be in charge of regulation, verification, and register maintenance.

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