Ukraine’s parliament passed a bill on Tuesday ending a decade-long ban on gambling in a move aimed at boosting budget revenues.
The government expects casinos, bookmakers and slot machine operators to contribute at least four billion hryvnias (about $148 million) to the state budget annually through taxes and licence fees.
Bill No.2285 was supported by 248 MPs. Lawmaker Oleh Marusyak, a member of the president’s Servant of the People party and author of the bill, said the legislation would help Ukraine supplement state revenues after a decade of the industry operating underground, Reuters reports. The government said the money would be invested in health, education and sport projects.
Under the new law, which still needs to be signed by President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, a specially created state regulator will issue licences to companies offering gambling services. The companies have to be registered in Ukraine but founders of the companies can be foreigners, with the exception of Russians. The system of online-monitoring is imposed, which 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.
Casinos, slot machines and bookmakers will be authorised to operate in hotels with ratings ranging from three to five stars. Bets can be placed solely on real events, there is a ban on virtual ones. The law also sets the minimum gambling age at 21.
Ukraine’s economy has been hit by a six-year-long military conflict with Russia-backed separatists in the east and is under additional pressure from the coronavirus pandemic.