Ukraine law passes – finally

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Ukraine recently passed a law legalising casino gaming and sportsbooks in the country. Casino International spoke with top Ukrainian lawyers Alina Plyushch and Dmytro Hotsyn from Sayenko Kharenko about the law and what it really means

U 30 AUGUST 2020

kraine used to have a thriving gaming scene and slot machines flourished in train stations, shops, anywhere with space. The result was a ban on gambling in the country – until now. A new law has opened up gaming in Ukraine, with

very specific requirements to avoid the issues of previous years. Alina Plyushch and Dmytro Hotsyn explain the ins and outs to Casino International.

Casino International: The vote in the second reading of the law was quite recent, and now it has been signed off by the president. Happy days! Alina Plyushch: It was the second and final reading, and was adopted as a whole. The reading was quite long and took several weeks; MPs also reviewed and rejected or accepted some amendments (such as lottery status and four-star hotels as venues for land-based casinos). But as a whole, it has been voted in.

CI: Is this for all forms of gambling? AP: Except lottery; they excluded lottery, it is now not considered a game of chance and will be regulated as it was previously, by the law on state lotteries where it is not considered gambling as such.

CI: How is the lottery not a game of chance? AP: We are also scratching our heads at this… It is historical though. There was a ban and all gambling was prohibited, except the lottery because it was not gambling, or a game of chance. This was called the state lottery, but there were actually three Ukrainian operators involved in it. The state does not hold stakes in them.

CI: Is it still the case that gambling licenses would be granted only for five-star hotels and the like? AP: Five-star hotels for casinos in Kyiv, four- and five-star hotels in other cases, but for slot halls and for betting shops it just needs to have three or four stars. It is still only for hotels though, which seems a little odd. Maybe they mean sportsbook but there will be no offline betting outside of these hotels; you can’t do it in a stadium or a bar, only in these hotels. We really don’t understand why this is restricted to hotels. DH: The only thing they have introduced here that is worth noting is that if you want to bet on horse racing, there will be a facility for customers to do that at the racetrack. It’s a move to help the Ukrainian horse racing industry, which almost died after the initial gambling ban. People in the industry believe this will give them a lifeline.

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