Ukraine President Zelenskyy Bans Soldiers From Gambling During Wartime

  • Zelenskyy told war chiefs to immediately ban soldiers from online or retail gambling
  • Petrychenko said gambling used as a stress release weakens self-control of soldiers
  • A Junior Sergeant told reporters a gambling ban “may even worsen the situation”
Volodymyr Zelenskyy
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has instructed his military chiefs to immediately order all soldiers not to gamble while the war is on. [Image:]

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has acted on advice that gambling is adversely entrenched in many of his country’s military personnel by banning his soldiers from using either online or retail casinos during wartime.

“the only way” to cope with battlefield stress

Zelenskyy’s move follows the early April suggestion of soldier and activist Pavlo Petrychenko that online gambling has become an addiction in the armed forces and for many enlisted fighters is “the only way” to cope with battlefield stress.

Reported in Politico on Monday, Zelenskyy signed the order over the weekend, just days after Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense took to X to announce Petrychenko’s death in action:

Decree of The President of Ukraine No. 234/2024 includes a direct instruction to Ukraine Army Commander-in-Chief Oleksandr Syrskiy and other military heads.

The decree references the April 20 decision of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine and instructs the war chiefs to “immediately introduce a ban on servicemen accessing gambling establishments and/or participating in gambling on the Internet during the legal regime of martial law.”

Before he died in combat, Petrychenko said in his petition that gambling for many active soldiers was an escape for dealing with stress but that it “quickly causes dopamine addiction and weakens their self-control.”

Besides the gambling ban on enlisted combatants, the new decree rules licensed gambling operators in Ukraine must limit game time and user accounts per person, plus set a maximum daily gambling amount.

A voice against Zelenskyy’s ban, however, came from Maksym Skubenko, serving Junior Sergeant in the 5th Separate Assault Brigade of Kyiv. Bakhmut told reporters a gambling ban “may even worsen the situation,” because soldiers could resort to using existing illegal online casinos.

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