As the Russian invasion of Ukraine continues, gambling regulator KRAIL says it has received a number of requests from industry to define the occupied lands in which gambling activities are prohibited.
The regulator said it had been asked repeatedly for “a clear list of municipalities that belong to temporarily occupied territories on which, under martial law, the activities of state lottery operators and gambling organisers are prohibited”.
“The definition of the territory of Ukraine temporarily occupied by the Russian Federation is given in the Ukrainian Law On Ensuring the Rights and Freedoms of Citizens and the Legal Regime in the Temporarily Occupied Territory of Ukraine,” the regulator said in a statement.
“The date of the beginning of the temporary occupation of territories is determined by the decision of the National Security and Defence Council of Ukraine (NSDC), put into effect by the decree of the President,” according to the KRAIL.
The agency said that only the NSDC can also decide to withdraw a given Ukrainian territory from the list of Russia-occupied areas where gambling activities are prohibited.
Locations currently listed in the law include Crimea, Sevastopol and parts of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.
In a second statement, the regulator also reminded local industry players of their obligation to pay their annual licence fees despite the martial law local authorities introduced in the aftermath of Russia’s attack on Ukraine.
“Russia’s military aggression has caused large-scale damage to the Ukrainian economy, in particular in the east and south of Ukraine,” according to the KRAIL. “For this reason, it is important today to stimulate and strengthen the economic front. Business operations are an integral part of this process. They also allow [gambling companies] … to protect the existing jobs and create new ones, and support the state budget.”
Figures released by the KRAIL indicate that, as of late September 2022, there were eight casinos and 60 slot halls licensed to operate in the Ukrainian market. However, due to the ongoing war, only five casinos and 39 slot halls were open to local players.
Licensed gambling companies operate in Ukraine under the provisions of the country’s gambling law, which was signed by the country’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on August 11, 2022. Last month, Olena Vodolashko, the agency’s acting head, told local media that the KRAIL has been working on amending the legislation.
KRAIL is drafting a legislative proposal “to improve the regulation of activities within the gambling market. It envisages many conceptual changes in various areas: licensing, equipment certification, minimising manifestations of gaming addiction, state supervision of the market, etc.”, she said.
The regulatory chief said that the draft was developed with the use of foreign regulatory practices, and it will also toughen the penalties for hosting unlicensed gambling operations.
“[Ukrainian] legislation definitely needs continuous improvement. With this in mind, we follow international practices and take into account our own experiences in regulating gambling,” according to Vodolashko.
“During the preparation of the draft, we paid special attention to strengthening the legal responsibility for illegal activities in the field of gambling, and propose to make appropriate changes to the Code of Administrative Offences and the Criminal Code of Ukraine.”