Ukraine Law Enforcement Authorities Shut Down More Than 900 Illegal Gambling Dens

Ukraine has taken further measures to crack down on illegal gambling as part of the Government’s efforts to reduce the size of the country’s shadow economy. As revealed by Prime Minister Oleksiy Honcharuk at a meeting over the weekend, 2020 is set to be the year when the Ukrainian economy is to come to light.

Prime Minister Honchruk further revealed that as part of these efforts, about 900 illegal gambling dens have been shut down after police raids across the country. Ukraine’s law enforcement unit ceased operation of over 900 illegal gambling halls in an action against unlawful gambling that started in late December 2019.

For the time being, gambling is not legal on the territory of Ukraine. This, however, has not stopped thousands of unlawful gambling dens to be operating in the country under the mask of lottery offices.

Last month, the Ukrainian Parliament made efforts to pass a special piece of legislation aimed at regulating the work of these gambling hubs but, unfortunately, failed to do so. After that, Volodymyr Zelensky, President of Ukraine, shared that all gambling halls that operate there should be immediately shut down.

The country’s efforts to deal with illegal gambling operations do not stop there. So far, the authorities have started almost 440 criminal proceedings against such illicit gambling dens’ owners. As part of the aforementioned law enforcement units’ raids, a total of 11,600 slot machines and other gambling equipment have been confiscated.

Ukrainian Parliament Considering Future Legalization of Gambling Businesses

According to estimates provided by the head of the National Police’s Strategic Investigations Department, there are approximately 5,300 illegal gambling establishments on the territory of Ukraine, including casinos, bookmakers and lotteries.

As mentioned above, gambling has been suspended in Ukraine since 2009. However, since 2012, the number of unlawful gambling dens has started to significantly increase, with the owners of such halls using legal loopholes after the gambling ban was relaxed by the Ukrainian parliament.

A few days ago, on January 9th, the head of the committee on finance, taxation and customs policy, Danylo Hetmantsev, projected that legalization of gambling could bring around $190 million to the country in 2020. In an interview with a local media earlier this month, he shared that only illegal gambling businesses that currently operate would have losses because of the proposed piece of legislation.

Some gambling operators have reacted positively to the consideration of the special gambling bills and possible legalization of the gambling market. Some of them, such as MSL, however, shared an opinion that the gambling bills, if adopted, would be extremely hurtful for lottery business in the country. MSL has also calculated that entering the Ukrainian gambling market would be too expensive to invest in.

For the time being, operators who would like to run a lottery in the country would have to prepare a serious financial resource to fund that. They are required to prove they have at least $21 million as the company’s capital, and they would have to invest a significant amount on licenses and as bank guarantee, too.

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