hat do you think about the situation regarding the prohibition of the gambling activity and what problems have the operators of casinos and slot halls had?
We have disapproved the situation. Furthermore it aroused shock. In the eyes of foreign investors, the business image of Ukraine has sent reeling. All slot halls and casinos in Ukraine are closed. The country is losing big sums of investments, practically the current legislation is changed, and the Constitution is violated. The licenses were granted for five years and investors were on firm ground during this time. Because of the situation with gambling in Russia, Alsart Group has invested a lot in Ukraine; the firm opened 75 gambling establishments and planned to open three more this month. Unfortunately, these plans are broken. Due to this situation the question is arising. Which guarantees does Ukraine give to investors? We have acted according to the law. Remind that each license has cost 150 000 euro.
How has the prohibition of the gambling reflected on Alsart Group business in Ukraine?
We have closed all our gambling halls according to the act of Ministry of Finance about fall into abeyance of license. Personnel are in indefinite leave. We are not waiting for favorable terms, the most important is to understand rules if it is possible to work or not. It is impossible to work when the legislation is changing every day.
In your opinion, what consequences can the prohibition lead to?
The prohibition will lead the business to the “shadow”, corruptness of government, unemployment and criminalization. The situation was compounded by crisis; people lost their work, and now were compounded by prohibition of gambling business. Over 500,000 people lost their work in Ukraine. The labor registry office doesn’t take people anymore because there is no money in budget for payments. The situation will be that people will work for food or the situation will put up to the crimes. The country is in a very serious situation.
Ukraine was offered to create gambling zones as in Russia. What do you think? Why have they chosen the Russian way of the gambling regulation?
It is the government relations. Shutdown of gambling business in Russia and unprepared ness of gambling zones will lead to a huge capital export and players from Russia to Ukraine. Ukraine is very comfortable “zone” for Russian players. There is a good infrastructure of restaurants, hotels and different kinds of amusement. The time to reach it is one hour by plane. The government doesn’t want such turn of events. That’s why the Russian lobby exists. It is possible to predict that the next country with the same destiny will be Belorussia. Remind that Kazakhstan has already closed.
What should Ukrainian slots and casino operators do to save their business?
We are sure on 99,9% that gambling business in Ukraine has no future in format it was before. Now all the market is waiting, everybody is waiting for something. There is nothing left than waiting. It needs to divest assets, fire personnel, lease the premises, reduce costs. We have had such experience in Russia, when we have waited for legislative review, taken the equipment on warehouse, left personnel, paid for rent.
Now I understand that it was more profitable to sale slot machines for us$ 100 than keep it a year on warehouse, pay for rent and after also pay for utilization. Nowadays there are no such markets for selling used equipment, all the world is going through an economic recession. Russian and Ukrainian markets are closed and there are 500,000 units of gambling equipment that need to be sold.