Ukraine promises legal gambling by 2018
The government of Ukraine has promised to launch legal gambling in 2018.
In a letter to the International Montary Fund’s Christine Lagarde, the country’s Ministry of Finance explained that Ukraine plans to reform its economy to qualify for £17.5 billion in financial assistance. The first of this sum – totalling $1 billion – was issued last week.
Furthermore, the letter’s signees – Ukraine’s prime minister, financial minister and national bank president – vowed to press ahead with plans to legalize gambling in the country “which will contribute additional revenue to the budget no later than 2018.”
Ukraine had sought to introduce land-based casinos, sports betting, a lottery system and online gambling sites in 2015. However, gaming operators balked at the price of proposed license fees and tax rates so the plans came to nothing.
Efforts to resurrect the legislation began in November of last year when a group of local industry stakeholders formed the Ukrainian Gaming Industry Association to assist the government in creating laws that would take “international [gaming] standards and practices” into account.
A further step was taken this February when Finance Minister Aleksandr Danilyuk restated the government’s desire to bring gambling out of the shadows.
Whatever happens next, you’ll read about it here…
Update: Poker has since been recognised as a sport in Ukraine and has been added to the Register of Recognised Sports. This bodes well for poker fans, who could see the popular game once again available in their country.
With this designation, Ukraine has exempted poker from its anti-gambling laws. The sport was removed from the official list of sports almost a decade ago after having been considered different from other types of gambling in the past. When it was removed from the list however, it was once again classed as a gambling activity and thus regulated by the country’s anti-gambling legislation.
The decision did not go unnoticed and player banded together to take their case to the Supreme Court. In 2013, the court reviewed the case and found in favour of the poker clubs. The caveat, though, was that the ruling only pertained to tournament poker games. Your run-of-the-mill poker games were still in breach of the law.
With the Russia/Ukraine conflict of 2014, gambling regulations took a back seat to other political goings on and clubs could hold (still technically illegal) poker games with impunity. Online operators like iPoker faced prosecution if they stayed in Ukraine.
The recognition of poker as an actual sport is just the first step. What now needs to happen is the introduction of regulations to keep the sport in good health and limit the chances of it falling by the wayside again. When these regulations will happen remains to be seen but the game’s redefinition as a sport is certainly a positive sign for players and operators.
Updated on 10th April 2019