Ukraine’s gambling regulator is continuing to offer guidance and support to the industry despite the ongoing Russian invasion and has joined forces with its peers across the continent.
At the start of the war, the Gambling and Lottery Regulatory Commission’s (KRAIL) website was often unavailable and the future of Ukraine’s gambling industry as a whole seemed uncertain.
However, in recent weeks the website has been regularly updated with new information to help operators understand the effects of doing business under martial law.
KRAIL appears to not only be surviving during this highly tumultuous time, but advancing its regulatory agenda.
On April 14, KRAIL was approved as a member of the Gaming Regulators European Forum (GREF), which consists of various gambling regulators that routinely exchange information, share views and discuss matters of common interest.
“Thanks to GREF membership, we will not only be able to expand cooperation and exchange experiences, but also join the platform for broadcasting the country's foreign policy for the EU and the international community as a whole. We are sure that this will contribute to the development of gambling and lotteries in Ukraine, even in such a difficult time,” KRAIL said.
The Ukrainian gambling regulator applied using a “simplified” procedure, according to GREF, and will not pay an annual licence fee this year, which is listed as costing £400 annually.
GREF says it is open to “any authority that licenses, supervises or legislates any aspect of gambling in any European country, state, dependent territory or area of internal sovereignty”.
None of GREF’s members are based in Russia or Belarus.
In a public announcement on April 7, KRAIL called on GREF and the International Association of Gambling Regulators (IAGR) to step up their support for Ukraine and “condemn Russia's military aggression”.
Previously, IAGR told VIXIO GamblingCompliance that responding to an inquiry on KRAIL’s request would take some time as its trustees are dispersed globally.
KRAIL says it has “fully resumed” its operations and is providing administrative services during martial law by reviewing relevant applications and making decisions on issuing licences and permits.
Despite martial law removing certain regulations and other restrictions on business, KRAIL has repeatedly warned that conducting lotteries and other gambling activities cannot be carried out without obtaining appropriate approvals.
“The validity of current temporary licences and permits are automatically extended for the period of martial law,” according to the gambling regulator.
In its latest notification on April 19, KRAIL highlighted that some applications and other documents received through digital channels often do not use qualified electronic signatures correctly.
The gambling regulator explained how to appropriately use electronic signatures and warned that digital communication channels are now the only ones available in the country.
On April 9, the fifth package of European Union (EU) sanctions against Russia and Belarus was introduced.
Gambling operators have been warned to monitor and ensure they comply with sanctions and other bans on offering bets on Russian events.
The UK Gambling Commission recently released further guidelines for operators navigating Russian sanctions.
Backing for Ukraine from the European gambling industry has shown no signs of letting up in recent weeks, with numerous messages of support including during talks at ICE London as well as banners at some stands at the event bearing Ukrainian flags.
As of Tuesday, a gaming industry Ukraine relief GoFundMe page had raised £259,435, including large donations from Betsson, Microgaming, Oryx gaming and Games Global, as well as numeration donations from individuals involved in the gambling industry.