Ukraine Votes and Approves Gambling Industry, Prepares to Launch Officially

The Verkhovna Rada voted and approved draft law No. 2285-d, setting in motion the cogwheels of legalizing land-based and Internet gambling in Ukraine, a move backed by the country’s president Volodymyr Zelensky.

Ukraine Continues to Push for Legalized Gambling

Ukrainian’s government continues to push on with its decision to introduce gambling to the country, after it banned it almost a decade ago. The country’s parliament and specifically 260 lawmakers backed draft law No. 2285-d.

Moving forward the bill would allow a number of venues, including casinos and sportsbooks – both land-based and online – to operate. Furthermore, the bill would include lotteries. Yet, there are a few restrictive measures to consider, not least of all that casinos may only set-up shop on the premises of five-star hotels.

By extension, this would concentrate all the gambling real-estate in the hands of well-heeled and well-connected businessmen, and possibly politicians. A casino applying for a license should be at least 500 square metres big.

There are other measures that seek to regulate the total number of gaming machines, no more than 40,000 across the entire country. The draft law also lays the ground work for other important aspects of legalizing the gambling industry, such as the legal gambling age which has been set to 21 years.

Big Economic Windfall and Hefty Licensing Fees

Ukraine hopes to hit a big windfall with $188 million from gaming income within 12 months of setting up the industry, with more ambitious numbers in sight. The would-be gambling moguls have enjoyed the support of Ukraine’s President, Volodymyr Zelensky, who previously urged the Verkhovna Rada, i.e. the parliament, to back the bill.

He first spoke out in favor of the bill back in October and December 19, either in person or through government officials, including his Cabinet of Ministers who submitted the bill to the Rada.

Since that first step has been made, the Cabinets of Ministers have also petitioned the Tax Service of Ukraine to begin shutting down any illegitimate gambling businesses that may be trying to skirt new regulation. A small adjustment has been made to the Tax Code, reducing the gaming revenue’s tax to 10% from 18%.

Yet, based on the latest information, casino licenses would cost a hefty lot to any operator. For a land-based casino with over 200 rooms in Kyiv, businesses would have to pay nearly $12 million.

For a hotel with over 150 rooms and no more than 200 rooms, the owners would have to pay nearly $6 million in the capital. In other cities, hotels with 100-150 rooms will have to pay the same $12 million tax rate.

Online casinos will be charged over $12 million a year and sports betting operations will cost nearly $23 million.

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