Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada supported the second reading and as a whole the bill No.2285-д regarding the legalization of the gambling business. The draft was supported by 248 MPs.
112 Ukraine TV channel broadcasted the session.
The bill covers the activities of casinos including online casinos, bookmaking (including online), issuing and holding lotteries, and poker on the Internet.
Where can a casino be located?
The initial version of the law suggested to place a casino only in 5-star hotels (for Kyiv – the hotel room capacity must be at least 150 rooms, for other cities - at least 100 rooms). Now this list has been expanded and it also includes out-of-town complexes (with a total area of at least 10,000 square meters, consisting of two or more buildings with a five-star hotel) and territories inside special gaming zones.
Such special zones will be created by the Cabinet of Ministers outside populated areas or inside them, but outside residential areas or in “economically backward” areas. In Ukraine, it is planned to create no more than five such special zones.
Gaming machine halls can be placed in 3.4 and 5-star hotels (the minimum number of rooms in Kyiv is at least 50, for other towns - 25). The license is given for 250 machines, in one hall there should be at least 50 of them.
Bookmaker activity will be allowed both on the Internet and at ground points. However, such points can only be accommodated in 3.4 and 5-star hotels and at the race tracks.
Bets can be placed solely on real events, there is a ban on virtual ones.
How to open a casino in Ukraine?
To open a casino in the mentioned zones, one needs to get a license for organizing and holding gambling in gambling establishments.
For investors who are ready to implement a separate investment project or build a separate hotel complex, the document offers a discount.
If an investor is ready to invest a certain amount of money in a project that goes beyond the scope of a standard casino, the Cabinet of Ministers can provide individual conditions for the realization of such a project.
But if the investor is ready to build a hotel complex (5-star complex with a number of rooms of at least 200 rooms for Kyiv or 150 rooms - for other cities), then he automatically acquires the right to place a casino there.
In both situations, an investment license will be issued instead of a regular license. Payment for the issuance of an investment license is not provided, and its validity period will be 10 years.
In such a case, in order to get the approval of the Cabinet of Ministers, it will be necessary to develop and submit an investment project.
Special requirements are set regarding the compliance of gambling equipment with generally accepted international standards.
What are the requirements for gamblers?
The gambler’s age will increase from 18 to 21 years old, and the requirements for gamblers and their identification and strict financial sanctions for non-compliance with such requirements are established. Representatives of the state-occupant cannot be organizers and participants in gambling.
“After showing the passport, the gambler enters not the hotel but the gambling establishment at the hotel. At the entrance to this gambling establishment, their passport is checked. If the supervisory authority discovers that persons younger than 21 years old plays in the establishment, the fines are applied, or the license is canceled altogether. Everything is very simple,” head of the relevant committee Danylo Hetmantsev said earlier on 112 Ukraine TV channel.
If a player, by participating in gambling, harms himself or his family by leading to a difficult financial situation, he/she may be restricted in visiting the gambling establishments for a period of six months to three years by a court decision.
The gambler may also be limited by the authorized body at the request of family members, but for a period of not more than six months in cases if:
- gamblers’ expenditures for gaming exceed his/her personal income which puts the gamblers or his family in a difficult situation;
- debt in the amount of over 100 minimum wages;
- evasion of alimony for more than three months;
- if the person or members of his/her family are recipients of a housing subsidy.
What the law on gambling allows and prohibits?
The document allows online poker. However, poker for money (not a tournament) will be possible only at the casino. Sports poker (poker tournament) is a sports game, so the procedure of holding the tournaments is determined by the relevant ministry.
In addition, video lottery terminals (VLT) and other visualization devices, that is, machines that allow you to bet on the result of video games and work on the basis of a random number generator, are prohibited.
The law amends the Law of Ukraine “On Advertising,” introducing restrictions on the advertising of gambling. In particular, a ban is placed on outdoor advertising, except for signs, as well as restrictions on all other types of advertising.
Who will regulate the gambling market?
The system of online-monitoring is imposed; it will allow holding state control over the activity of the organizers of the gambling by data acquisition of the gambling equipment of the gambling organizers, which are connected to the unified system.
Moreover, the creation of the particular state body – the Commission on the settlement of gambling – is proposed. The composition: chairman and five members. It will hold licensing, monitoring, and control over the activity of the market members.
The document says that the online monitoring system will start to work not right away but in 2.5 years. The price of the license for online casinos, bookmakers, gambling machines halls in the hotels will be thrice more until the implementation of the online monitoring system.
Fines for violation of gambling legislation
In case, if a person under the age of 21 years is allowed to enter the gambling establishments or in case of the violation of the identification of the gambler that leads to it; the organizer might face the fine in the sum of 500 minimum national living wages (as for today, 2,361,500 hryvnia ($87,289,64)).
The stake through the gambling equipment without proper documents is fined in the sum of 1,000 minimum national living wages (as for today, 4,723,000 hryvnia ($174,579,27)).
The bookmaker activity that does not have a proper license is fined in the sum of 160 minimum national living wages for each case (as for today, 755,680 hryvnia ($27,932)).
What income Ukraine may receive from legalizing gambling?
The authors of the current concept expect to gain from 150 to 200 million dollars from market participants annually (license fee and tax).
As for taxation, this bill does not cover this issue, it will be considered as part of a separate legislative initiative.