Industry news

Ukraine Plans to Legalize Casino, Sportsbook, and Lottery Gambling

Industry news

Ukraine Plans to Legalize Casino, Sportsbook, and Lottery Gambling

Ukraine plans to legalize gambling next year in an attempt to raise revenues for the treasury, according to its own Ministry of Finance. The ministry sent a letter to the International Monetary Fund stating its intentions to seek gambling revenues.


The letter was addressed to Christine Lagarde, the IMF head. Ministry of Finance discussed the plans as part of an overall framework to justify the $17.5 billion in IMF financial assistance the country is getting. Ukraine received $1 billion in financial assistance as a first installment last week.


Poroshenko Signals Approval for Gambling

Petro Poroshenko, the president of Ukraine, and several other top officials signed the letter to the Mrs. Lagarde. Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman, Finance Minister Oleksandr Danyliuk, and Valeriya Hontareva, head of the National Bank of Ukraine, also signed the document.


The pledged support of so many Ukrainian luminaries shows that the government is serious in its plans to legalize casino gambling in the country. While such a law should increase money to the Finance Ministry, it also is aimed at drawing more western tourists to the country at a pivotal time in Ukraine’s relations with the European Union and United States.


2015 Ukrainian Gambling Bill

Draft legislation for Ukrainian gambling was introduced in 2015. The proposal at the time including land-based casinos, an updated and modern national lottery, and legal sports betting. Online gambling was tentatively added to the draft proposal in 2015, too.


In 2016, the legislation stalled, because international gaming operators balked at the tax rates and licensing fees. At the time, Ukrainian officials said they expected to generate about $1.5 billion a year. Assuming the new proposal would have smaller fees and lower taxes, it is unknown how much officials expect gambling to generate under the new plan.


Ukrainian Gaming Industry Association Forms

Since the defeat of the previous bill, the Ukrainian Gaming Industry Association was formed. The purpose of the UGIA is to pool the talents of Ukrainian industry stakeholders in advising the nation’s leaders in the gaming law’s legislative process. A part of UGIA’s mission statement is to consider international standards and practices, and convey that information to lawmakers.


Oleksandr Danyliuk first noted back in February 2017 that Ukraine’s was planning a new gambling law. Danyliuk estimated at the time that Ukraine has lost out on $370 million in gaming revenues by delaying its move towards legalized gambling by two years.


Lost $80 Billion in Revenues

Reuters estimates that Ukraine has lost at least $80 billion in revenues since the Russian invasion of Crimea. Crimea held the chief port in Ukraine, Sevastapol, and also was a lucrative province from tourism, fishing rights, and oil rights in the Black Sea. Since 2014, the Russian Federation annexed Crimea, though most members of the international community do not recognize the annexation. Russia’s president Vladimir Putin claims the Crimeans wanted to join with Russia, but the region’s history of ethnic tensions suggests Putin’s claims lack merit.


Justine Minister Pavlo Petrenko said in 2014, “Any state property located on the territory of Crimea is the property of Ukraine and Russia bears the full liability for the losses incurred by state companies, ministries and departments.”


The war in the Donbass region of Eastern Ukraine cost the country billions of dollars more. The military conflict in the Donbass River areas ostensibly are between Ukrainian government forces and pro-Russian Ukrainian nationalists, who have ethnic ties to Russia. Many in the west believe the forces include Russian soldiers.


Replacing Lost Revenues through Gambling

Legalized gambling would replace only a small percentage of the lost revenues, but the Ukrainian government has been seeking ways to generate new revenues in the wake of the Russian assault. One way to increase revenues is for Ukrainian officials to prove to the International Monetary Fund that they are making a good-faith effort to increase revenues and streamlining government spending. The letter to the IMF’s head thus not only signals a new potential revenue stream for Ukraine, but also helps to assure that the $17.5 billion payments continue.


The International Monetary Fund was formed at the Bretton Woods Conference in 1944. The IMF describes itself as “189 countries working to foster global monetary cooperation, secure financial stability, facilitate international trade, promote high employment and sustainable economic growth, and reduce poverty around the world“.


The IMF is headquartered in Washington D.C. and is one of the chief institutions in the world which brings financial stability and global cooperation. International pundits consider the IMF an instrument of US economic policy, while American anti-globalist commenters consider the IMF a globalist tool. Despite those criticisms, the IMF continues to invest in developing nations worldwide and help nations like Ukraine when they face economic hardship.


Re-posted from:

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