Ukraine Demands Gambling Industry Severs Ties With Russia

March 30, 2022
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Ukraine’s gambling regulator has praised operator Parimatch for completing its withdrawal from the Russian market and urged other industry stakeholders to cut all ties with the country.

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Ukraine’s gambling regulator has praised operator Parimatch for completing its withdrawal from the Russian market and urged other industry stakeholders to cut all ties with the country.

The Commission for the Regulation of Gambling and Lotteries (KRAIL) called on other operators to “be like Parimatch”.

Parimatch, which is based in Cyprus but founded in Ukraine, said it is proud of its roots and condemned the military aggression against Ukraine in a statement on severing all ties with Russia.

“The war that Russia started against the Ukrainian people and state made it unacceptable for us to use the brand and tech solutions in Russia,” said Roman Syrotian, the company’s co-CEO.

“We stopped the support of all processes on operational and technical levels, and we withdrew the Parimatch brand. From now on, we will not be working or partnering with any Russian companies,” he said.

The company said it is donating UAH60m ($2m) to the Ukrainian war effort for ammunition, food and medicine, as well as organising civilian evacuations.

Funds will also be spent on “binoculars, body armour, drones, helmets, military spec, thermal imagers and night vision devices”, Parimatch said in a blog post.

“The board’s decision to leave the Russian market is unanimous, definitive, and implemented on all levels,” said co-CEO Maksym Liashko.

“From here on out, any presence of the Parimatch brand in Russia will be considered as a violation of the intellectual property. This is not a rebranding or restyling. This is a complete shutdown from the franchise.”

Parimatch offered services in Russia via the company Betring LLC.

KRAIL has called on all European and international gambling associations, conferences, forums and exhibitions to “immediately terminate the membership of Russian companies and their representatives”.

A series of announcements from the regulator covering these calls to action are dated at different times in March, but access to the authority’s website has been patchy since the start of the invasion and many of the bulletins are just becoming widely available.

Since February 24, Ukraine has been under martial law, something which is not covered under the country’s gambling laws, creating an unprecedented regulatory situation.

On March 13, the Cabinet of Ministers declared that the “planned and unscheduled measures of state supervision (control) and state market supervision for the period of martial law have been suspended”.

This means that the “approval of the annual plan of state supervision (control) of the commission for the regulation of gambling and lotteries for 2022" was also put on hold.

As a result of the Cabinet’s resolution, on March 21 KRAIL received a notification from eight gambling organisers regarding the closure of 27 gambling establishments in different regions of Ukraine.

KRAIL’s demands to cut Russian ties echo a decision by the World Lottery Association (WLA) to suspend its members from Russia and Belarus, which has supported the invasion.

The WLA came under pressure from a group of Eastern European operators, including Ukraine’s national lottery operator, to take action.

Operators in the EU and the UK have also been warned by regulators not to breach any of the raft of sanctions levied against Russia by Western nations.

The Malta Gambling Authority advised that licence-holders may need to conduct extra checks on customers if they suspect links to Russian money, while the UK Gambling Commission warned that operators face enforcement action if they violate the sanctions.

Ukraine’s gambling regulators have been opposed to Russian involvement ever since the sector was re-legalised in 2020. In large part due to the annexation of Crimea in 2014.

Companies with Russian shareholders or beneficial owners are barred by law from obtaining any kind of gambling licence in the country.

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