The panel discussion last week, at the European Gaming Congress made me feel inspired to contemplate on critical facets of Ukraine’s burgeoning gambling industry, positioning the nation as an appealing prospect for Western European investors. Although unique challenges, including historical financial corruption and external pressures, exist, Ukraine’s European identity makes it an attractive hub for investment. As the country grapples with ongoing conflict, it must simultaneously address customary market concerns such as safeguarding against Russian interference and protecting the personal data of its citizens.
A striking parallel emerged between Ukraine’s gambling landscape and the realm of cryptocurrencies, where combating money laundering and terrorist financing poses significant challenges. The National Bank, equipped with the capacity to monitor financial flows, plays a pivotal role, in conjunction with law enforcement agencies. A comprehensive strategy to combat mis-selling and gray schemes is being executed by the National Bank of Ukraine, alongside the Commission and the Ministry of Finance, resulting in the revocation of licenses, particularly among operators with Russian ties. Comparable license revocations have occurred in several European nations that have issued cryptocurrency licenses.
However, amid the ongoing struggle against these challenges, errors have emerged, exemplified by the imposition of sanctions on prominent Ukrainian industry leaders like Parimatch and Pokermatch. These sanctions have not only significantly impacted the legal gambling sector but have also cast a shadow of caution over Western investors. Notably, the President’s directive to the Cabinet of Ministers, prompted by a citizen petition with 25,000 signatures, seeks to investigate the circumstances leading to the inclusion of Parimatch in the sanctions list of the National Security and Defense Council.
In the wake of the Parimatch case, it’s worth noting that the Cosmolot brand has also recently faced heightened scrutiny, with law enforcement agencies conducting searches and investigations, further emphasizing the need for a robust law enforcement process. Ukrainian Gambling Council, representing 80% of licensed gambling operators, committed to serving its members by actively working on player protection, advertising regulation, and acting as a valuable business ombudsman for the industry, contributing to a more secure and transparent gambling landscape in Ukraine.
As technical impediments are surmounted, the regulatory body demonstrates its efficiency. Critical issues, such as streamlining market access through license issuance, promoting responsible gambling, stricter advertisement rules, and reinvigorating investments, are coming to the fore.
Once the security concerns are addressed, Ukraine is poised to unleash pent-up demand in its gambling sector. This situation will spur investors to contemplate their entry into the market, whether through direct investment, partnerships, or mergers and acquisitions, underlining the evolving landscape of opportunities in Ukraine’s vibrant gambling industry.
Article by Viktoriya Zakrevskaya, Founding Member and Deputy Chairwoman for Communications, Ukrainian Gambling Council
Viktoriya was a speaker at the European Gaming Congress by Hipther, that took place on 31 October at the InterContinental Warsaw. She discussed the emerging Ukrainian iGaming market at the Panel “The Greek Odyssey, La Dolce Vita, La Fiesta Española, The Ukrainian Spirit, and The Portuguese Fado”.