Ukraine 10-Year Ban on Gambling Almost Over, New Bill Imminent

  • Country's president Zelensky campaigned to overturn ban
  • Full bill will be announced in the next few days
  • Reports vary on whether gambling will be confined to hotels
  • Online gambling, sports betting, slots halls could be in the cards
Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky smiling
Overturning the country’s ten-year gambling ban was one of the issues Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky campaigned on. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

New plans get the go-ahead

Plans to overhaul the current ban on gambling in Ukraine are going forward thanks to a new draft budget by the country’s government.

one of the issues Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky campaigned on

A gambling ban has existed for the past ten years, and overturning it was one of the issues Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky campaigned on. Earlier in the summer, he gave permission for a new draft bill to be released by October 1, 2019, which would allow legislative adoption by the end of the year.

Draft budget prioritizes gambling

Ukraine’s new 2020 draft budget released on September 30 prioritizes legalized gambling, with a bill ready to submit in the coming days.

In a statement, Prime Minister Alexi Goncharuk gave some indication of what the landscape would look like, with gambling in Kiev only permitted in hotels with over 200 rooms. Smaller hotels with at least 120 rooms in cities such as Odessa and Lviv would also be permitted. He said: “We want the slot machines to disappear from the streets, so the government developed a bill on behalf of the President.”

the reach could go much further to include online gambling, sports betting

However, a leaked draft report by news outlet ePravda shows that the reach could go much further to include online gambling, sports betting, and a new regulatory gambling body overseen by the Cabinet of Ministers.

Slots halls could also be in the cards as long as they are not near schools, hospitals, or churches. There would be a nationwide cap of 40,000 slot machines in place, with no more than 250 allowed in any one venue.

Increase in country’s revenue

Goncharuk also confirmed how much revenue the proposed new licensing laws would bring. He estimated the figure to vary from between 2bn UAH ($81m) to 2.5bn UAH ($101m), depending on the final law adopted. The country already legalized poker in August last year.

The plans have been welcomed by international betting company Parimatch, which has expressed interest in supporting the adoption of a gambling market to Ukranian media. CEO Sergey Portnov said: “We are pleased that current and modern regulatory standards will be created for the Ukrainian market at the legislative level, which will introduce clear, balanced rules for market players, the state and consumers.”

Vladimir Groysman, secretary of the National Security and Defense Council, has claimed that Ukraine’s current gambling business is “operating in the shadows”, and that now parliament would be able to change this.