Ukraine: Government lifts ban on gambling business

In brief

On 13 August 2020, the Law of Ukraine On State Regulation of Activities on Organizing and Conducting Gambling Games No. 768-IX ("Law") came into effect (except for certain provisions).

Permitted gambling activities

The Law permits organizing and conducting the following activities in Ukraine:

  • gambling games in casinos
  • gambling games in online casinos
  • providing bookmaking services at physical betting locations and online betting platforms
  • gambling at slot machine halls
  • online poker gambling games.

New rules for permitted gambling activities

New rules have been introduced for the following:

  • obtaining a gambling license
  • using certified gambling equipment
  • connecting gambling equipment to the State Online Monitoring System
  • registration of gambling operators
  • gambling at specific premises of gambling operators (excluding gambling games conducted on the internet).

Organizing and conducting gambling games in casinos is permitted in the following ways:

  • a designated gambling area in five-star hotels with at least 150 guest rooms for Kyiv hotels
  • a designated gambling area in five-star hotels with at least 100 guest rooms for hotels in other localities
  • a designated gambling area in the premises of recreation facilities situated on city suburbs (comprised of two or more buildings), with the total area covering at least 10,000 square meters and a five-star hotel in place within the facility
  • a designated gambling area established by a decision of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine.

The Law also requires that the premises should have a minimum area of 500 square meters to accommodate a casino.

Organizing and conducting gambling games at slot machine halls are only permitted at designated gambling areas such as that of three-star, four-star and five-star hotels with:

  • at least 50 guest rooms (for Kyiv hotels)
  • at least 25 guest rooms (for hotels in other localities).

Additionally, non-residential premises must have a minimum area of 300 square meters to accommodate a slot machine hall. Slot machine halls may also only be located in localities with populations of greater than 10,000.

Requirements for gambling operators

Gambling operators must meet a number of criteria, including:

  • be a legal entity registered in Ukraine
  • obtain the corresponding gambling license
  • have a charter capital made of cash contributions of not less than UAH 30 million
  • not be controlled, directly or indirectly, by residents of the aggressor country
  • a director, chief accountant, majority shareholder of a gambling operator or its ultimate beneficial owners (UBOs) must not be citizens of an aggressor  country
  • UBOs of a gambling operator must not be residents of an aggressor country
  • participants (shareholders) of a gambling operator must not be UBOs of a resident of an aggressor country.

Regulatory authority

The Gambling Games and Lottery Commission ("Commission") will oversee the regulation of organizing and conducting gambling games. Within two months of the effective date of the Law, the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine will form the Commission using persons nominated through an open tender process.

The Commission will have the following powers and duties:

  • maintaining a register of licensed gambling operators
  • elaborating license terms and procedures to be approved by the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine
  • deciding on issuance and cancellation of gambling licenses
  • determining a list of gambling equipment for certification
  • administering the State Online Monitoring System.

License fees

License fees vary according to the type of permitted activity, however some license fees are as follows:

  • Gambling games in casinos — 60,000 minimal wages (~UAH 283,4 million) for Kyiv; 30,000 minimal wages (~ UAH 141,7 million) for other localities; term: five years. The following fees must also be paid:
    • annual fee for each license for a casino table — 90 or 175 minimal wages (depends on whether there is a roulette wheel on a casino table)
    • annual fee for each license for a slot machine — six minimal mages
  • Gambling games in online casinos — 6,500 minimal wages (~UAH 30,7 million); term: five years.
  • Providing bookmaking services — 30,000 minimal wages (~UAH 141,7 million); term: five years. The following fee must also be paid:
    • Annual fee for each license for a physical betting location — 30 minimal wages.
  • Gambling at slot machine halls — 7,500 minimal wages (~UAH 35,5 million); term: five years. The following fee must also be paid:
    • Annual fee for each license for a slot machine — six minimal wages.
    • Online poker gambling games — 5,000 minimal wages (~UAH 23,6 million); term: five years.

The Law also provides for an investment license for a 10-year term, for which no fees are payable. Such a license is conditional upon a range of criteria, including the carrying out of the construction of a five-star hotel complex with at least 200 guest rooms (for Kyiv hotels) or 150 guest rooms (for hotels in other cities). Such a license allows its holder to organize and conduct gambling games in casinos of such a hotel complex.

It is expected that the Law will usher in the recovery of the gambling industry in Ukraine.

UKR version available here.

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