Ukrainian Gambling to Be Legalized as Latest Bill Passes Parliament Vote

  • The new bill will end an 11-year gambling ban in Ukraine
  • Land-based casinos will only be permitted in hotels
  • Restrictions are placed on Russian-owned gambling businesses
Kiev city skyline at dusk
Ukrainian gambling will become legal next month after the Verkhovna Rada passed the nation’s latest bill into law. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

11 years without gambling

The Ukrainian government has passed a new bill which will regulate both land-based and online gambling in the country. Ukraine’s parliament, the Verkhovna Rada (Rada), voted 248-95 for the approval of Bill 2285-D, “Gambling Law”.

With the exception of state-run lotteries, gambling has been banned in all forms in Ukraine since 2009. However, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky announced that the law would be repealed at the beginning of his presidency in September 2019.

newly proposed gambling legislation will become law next month

Legislators proposed Bill 2285-D in October 2019, but it failed to gain approval upon first reading in December. After a number of amendments, the newly proposed gambling legislation will become law next month.

Bill 2285-D details

Last month, legislators published the latest draft of the Ukrainian gambling bill with some changes to its 2019 predecessor.

Ukraine’s Committee on Finance Tax and Customs adjusted the original bill’s licensing costs. Under the new licensing framework, retail sports operators will face a flat fee of UAH 70m ($2.6m), while an online gambling license will cost UAH 30m ($1.1m) with renewal necessary every five years.

there will be a licensing fee of UAH 121m ($4.5m) for land-based casino operators

The bill only permits land-based casinos to operate within 4- or 5-star hotels. There will be a licensing fee of UAH 121m ($4.5m) for land-based casino operators. Casino operators can also advertise their services through affiliates after legislators overturned a proposed ban on third-party marketing.

The legislation also now includes restrictions on Russian-owned businesses. According to the bill, operators must not be owned by “residents of an occupying state and/or the aggressor state in relation to Ukraine.” This has since been confirmed to refer to Russian ownership of gambling companies.

Legislators are yet to confirm gambling tax policies. The Ukrainian parliament will vote again on five separate proposals for taxation frameworks. Considered the most likely to pass, Bill 2713-D includes a tax of 10% on gross gaming revenue for online gambling and lotteries. It would see land-based activities taxed at 5% and land-based slot machines taxed at 12.5%.

Ukrainian market’s potential

Founded in Ukraine in 1994, sports betting company Parimatch has described its excitement at the potential of the market. In a statement released on Tuesday, the company explained the advantages of a “fair and regulated betting industry” for Ukraine.

It shows the world we are ‘open for business’”

The statement read: “It shows the world we are ‘open for business.’ It will draw international investment into, and help grow, important technology and payments sectors that are the foundation of the betting industry. Through the license fees and tax contributions, it will also generate much needed revenue for the state budget.”

During a presentation of Ukraine’s draft state budget in November 2019, Prime Minister Oleksiy Honcharuk predicted that a legal gambling market would be greatly beneficial to annual state income. He forecasted that legalized gambling could add UAH3bn ($110.6m) to the nation’s budget.