More than a year after the beginning of the Russian invasion of its territory, Ukraine has taken another measure to sanction Russia while protecting its own gambling sector.
With the war losses mounting for both parties, Ukraine has announced a decision to block a large number of offshore gambling platforms, including many Russian online gambling websites. The Russian invasion of Ukraine has been vastly criticized by the Western world. As a result, Russian technology companies were not allowed to attend the CES 2023 event in Las Vegas in January this year.
Officially, unlicensed offshore gambling operators are illegal in Ukraine, and the country has now made the decision to finally take a step further to protect its gambling market. As a result, it has fully restricted local people from accessing such websites, with the move being announced by the Security Service of Ukraine, which has joined forces with the country’s gambling regulatory body to crack down on illegal gambling services.
The newly-unveiled ban on Russian online gambling companies has come to demonstrate Ukraine’s ambition to drive Russia away from its territory once and for all and, on the other hand, its intention to protect its legal gambling market from offshore operators that offer their services to local customers without the necessary operating permit. The Ukrainian authorities remain hopeful that more players would be channeled toward the country’s legal gambling industry following the newly-announced ban.
Ukraine Trying to Protect Its Legal Gambling Industry Amid Ongoing Russion Invasion
The refusal of the Ukrainian Gambling and Betting Association to allow its members to postpone the payment of their taxes for the previous year has been considered a more controversial decision. As a result of it, gambling companies will have to pay what they are supposed to by April 2023.
According to reports, some companies have been finding it difficult to adapt to this decision and not being able to postpone the payment of their financial obligations, claiming that will hurt their business.
The gambling sector and overall gambling potential of Ukraine has been seriously affected first by the Covid-19 pandemic, and then, by the beginning of the Russian invasion in February 2022. Local authorities are still making efforts to expand the sector and keep it up to date but experts believe that it will take some time before the local gambling industry is able to recover from all the damages suffered over the last few years.
Online gambling was officially legalized in Ukraine in 2020, along with traditional brick-and-mortar casinos. As required by the country’s laws, operators are first required to file an application for an online betting and gambling license from the Ukrainian Commission for the Regulation of Gambling and Lotteries. All operating permits need to comply with local gambling legislation and regulations, too.
Under the aforementioned rules, no Russian company or person is allowed to acquire an operating license. Apart from that, license holders should not own shares in any Russian company or have shareholders originating from the country that has recently been included in the FATF graylist. If an operator meets all of the requirements, it is required to pay a $1.3-million license fee.
As mentioned above, retail casino gambling was also legalized in Ukraine in 2020. Currently, there is only one operational casino in the country – the Billinaire’s Casino at the InterContinental Hotel in Kyiv.