Gambling in the Ukraine- both land-based and online- has been strictly illegal since May of 2009. The Law on Prohibition of Gambling Business in the Ukraine was prompted by a fire in a gambling hall in Dnipropetrovsk; which caused the deaths of nine people. Now, six years on, the Ukraine are poised to bring in laws which will make gambling legal once again.
Last week, the Ministry of Finance posted a draft bill which, if approved, will make sports betting, lottery, online gambling and land-based casinos completely legal for the country’s citizens. It is, of course, only a draft but, in it’s current state, the casinos you would expect to be delighted about the news are less than impressed.
EXCESSIVE LICENSE FEES?
The reason for their uncertainty? Despite looking like it will become legal, anyone wishing to actually operate a gambling operation within the Ukraine will have more than a few hoops to jump through. Land-based casinos will face tight restrictions upon the number of gaming tables they utilise, minimum hiring requirements and will be subject to an annual license fee- not cheap at between €300,000 and €1m depending upon its geographical location.
Regardless of whether they operate online or on land, all operators will also be required to demonstrate that they have a mininum if €2m in capital and must also be based in the country.
SO WHO WILL CHOOSE TO OPERATE WITHIN THE UKRAINE?
Online casinos will not escape unscathed- those wishing to operate within the Ukraine following the legalisation of gambling will need to fork out €1.5m every year. Even once approval has been granted, and casinos hold their licenses in hand, the taxes on gross gaming revenue are likely to be 20% (if Irina Sergienko, director of the All-Ukranian Union of Bookmakers is to be believed). She recently discussed the bill with Betting Business Russia and voiced her concerns over the taxes and fees proposal element, suggesting that the cost of the licenses combined with revenue taxation was likely to deter would-be operators.
She went on to suggest that a more “rational” fees structure would be equally as effective at encouraging the introduction of land-based and online casinos in the country and would have the added benefit of ensuring that the market won’t become governed by the largest casinos- the only ones who could afford the rates as they currently stand.