Ukraine’s President, Volodymyr Zelensky, has tasked his Cabinet of Ministers with drafting and passing a bill that would reorganize the nation’s gambling industry by this coming December.
After winning a big victory in Ukraine’s presidential elections, Mr. Zelensky, a former comedian, was inaugurated as the country’s top official in May. About two and a half months into his presidency, he announced plans to legalize some forms of gambling in the country and it seems now that he wants that to happen as quickly as possible.
President Zelensky said last month that he would move forward a plan for the legalization of casino gambling at five-star hotels. The move aims to encourage development in the tourist-heavy Black Sea region.
Ukraine outlawed nearly all forms of gambling back in 2009. Following the introduction of a ban on the provision of casino gaming and betting services on the territory of the country, lotteries have remained the only form of gambling that is currently permitted.
However, the country is believed to be nurturing a thriving black market the proportions of which are impossible to be estimated. The Ukrainian government introduced in 2015 a draft legislation calling for the legalization of casino-style gaming, sports betting, and online gaming and betting, but the piece never saw much progress.
According to a report conducted by the Ukrainian Ministry of Finance in the 2014/15 fiscal year, the legalization of various forms of gambling could generate up to €170 million in additional revenue for the country’s budget.
It is to be seen whether President Zelensky’s effort to create a new business sector, namely profitable brick-and-mortar casinos, would gain enough traction and succeed.
President Zelensky’s Timeline
Ukraine’s top official met with members of the country’s Cabinet of Ministers, the Verkhovna Rada, and representatives of law enforcement agencies to discuss the potential legalization of casino gambling and how the process should be carried out.
President Zelensky said during the recent meeting that the Cabinet of Ministers should draft a legislation outlining the casino gambling legalization process and present it by October 1, 2019. The Verkhovna Rada, known to be Ukraine’s unicameral parliament, will then have to adopt the legislation by December 1, 2019.
The country’s president tasked Prime Minister Oleksii Honcharuk and Minister of Finance Oksana Markarova with overseeing the drafting of the gambling bill. David Arakhamia, leader of President Zelensky’s Servant of the People party, and Verkhovna Rada’s chairman, Dmyro Razumkov, were appointed to oversee the adoption of the proposed legislation.
President Zelensky first made his remarks on the potential legalization of casino gambling in the Black Sea region at a business forum in Turkey. The legislator said back then that he wanted to see Ukrainian tourism companies grow along with their Turkish counterparts. It is still unclear whether the President hinted at potential Ukrainian-Turkish ventures once and if casino gambling becomes legal in his homeland.
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