Olena Vodolazhko, the acting boss of the Ukrainian Commission for the Regulation of Gambling and Lotteries (KRAIL), shared that the isolation of Russia in the gambling sector is currently considered a paramount priority of her commission.
At the time she had an interview with the Ukrinform news agency, which was published on the official website of the country’s gambling and lotteries watchdog, Ms. Vodolazhko shared some details about the aspirations and regulatory work done by KRAIL during the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Regulation during wartime has not been easy, especially considering the fact that the regulated gambling sector is relatively new to the country, as it was officially legalized in August 2020. The country updated its gambling laws in 2021, with increased responsible gambling provisions implemented at the time.
Ms. Vodolazhko revealed that the Ukrainian Commission for the Regulation of Gambling and Lotteries had a mixed approach and highlighted some of the watchdog’s top priorities, including severing Russian business relationships, focusing on Russian money-laundering efforts, filing appeals to the international gaming community, as well as the application of sanctions on Russia-based entities.
The war conflict between the two countries is not the first time when Ukraine has focused on the isolation of Russian-controlled businesses. The country’s 2020 law that sought to make various forms of gambling legal in Ukraine already included some rules and regulations against such businesses entering the market due to the Russian occupation of Crimea.
KRAIL Seeks the Wider European Community’s Support Following the Russian Military Aggression
Now, KRAIL’s acting boss shared that since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which started on February 24th, 2022, the isolation of Russia in the gambling sphere has become the biggest priority of the gambling regulatory body. The Commission regulating the Ukrainian gambling and lottery sector had urged the international gambling community to join the sanctions imposed on the Russian Federation and limit the Russian residents’ participation in games with the introduction of appropriate changes to the rules of gambling organizers.
Apart from that, a campaign against organizations linked to the Russian Federation, such as the online gambling company 1xBet, has been among the watchdog’s recent work. Previously, the KRAIL faced the Ukrainian press’ backlash for moving too slowly to remove the aforementioned operator from the local market, with the operating license of 1xBet eventually canceled following intervention from the country’s president Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
Even after facing the media hubs’ criticism, Ms. Vodolazhko defended the gambling regulator’s work regarding the 1xBet license’s cancellation, saying that the watchdog’s work is based on impartiality, transparency, and legality, and the Commission works under clearly defined laws and license conditions. The watchdog’s boss explained that KRAIL’s decision to cancel the aforementioned online gambling operator’s license was made immediately after it had received the necessary documentary confirmations from the Bureau of Economic Security.
Ms. Vodolazhko also highlighted the organization’s efforts in seeking the help of the wider European community by reaching out to the European Forum of Gambling Business Regulators (GREF) to push forward its message and receive further support for Ukraine. She noted that Ukraine was supported by the Association of European Lotteries after the Russian military aggression and, eventually, decided to suspend lottery operators originating from Russia and Belarus. The gambling regulator’s boss further explained that the KRAIL appealed to the representatives of foreign gambling software suppliers asking them to stop their business relations and partnership with the Russian Federation.