The Ukrainian Commission for the Regulation of Gambling and Lotteries (KRAIL) has announced that 72% of all unlicensed gambling sites operating in the country blocked access to their websites after being contacted by the regulator during the period from January 25, 2022, to August 8 this year. The figures demonstrate the effectiveness of KRAIL’s efforts to eradicate illegal gambling businesses.
Online gambling is legal in Ukraine. The country legalized the industry three years ago. However, operators who want to cater to the needs of Ukrainian casino fans must obtain a license from KRAIL – the country’s gambling regulator. According to official data, the gambling watchdog received 667 applications for gaming licenses last year. Gambling platforms are not allowed to target Ukrainians without having a proper license.
Nevertheless, many offshore gambling sites do not mind accepting wagers from Ukrainian gamblers without carrying KRAIL’s stamp of approval. This means that players are exposed to an increased risk of fraud and theft. Besides, offshore businesses cut into the licensed casinos’ profits and the country’s revenues. As a result, lawmakers, authorities, and KRAIL have launched a massive crackdown on illegal gambling.
From January 25, 2022, to August 8 this year, nearly three-quarters of offshore gambling sites ceased operations, according to KRAIL. The gambling watchdog, however, did not disclose how many gambling businesses it contacted during that period. Gambling businesses operating in Ukraine without a proper license may face regulatory action. Operators contacted by the country’s gambling watchdog must cease operations within three days.
Ukraine Ups the Ante in the Fight against Illegal Gambling
Last month, Ukraine implemented a new law specifying the exact procedures that organizations subject to anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing must comply with. Gambling businesses licensed in Ukraine are now subject to stricter inspections. According to the new law, KRAIL licensees may face scheduled or unscheduled facility inspections.
The gambling regulator also proposed a reform of the existing laws regarding the process of suspending licenses of gambling operators who violate the law. This May, however, Ukrainian deputy prime minister, Mykhailo Fedorov, introduced a draft bill seeking to dissolve KRAIL and establish a new regulatory body. No further actions on the matter have been taken so far.
The country has taken the problem of illegal gambling very seriously. This weekend, Ukraine’s Bureau of Economic Security forced four illegal gambling venues in Kyiv to cease operations. The police confiscated technical equipment worth around UAH1.5 million. In June, detectives busted seven other illegal gambling establishments as well as an underground casino.
In March this year, the Economic Security Bureau of Ukraine (ESBU) announced it had revealed a criminal conspiracy involving Ibox Bank and plenty of gambling operators. Those who participated in the scheme worked together to evade taxes. According to ESBU, they owed the state over UAH400 million in taxes.