Ukraine’s new president, Vladimir Zelensky, has outlined plans to legalise casinos in luxury hotels in the south of the country.
“We will legalise gambling, namely the operation of casinos in five-star hotels, which will stimulate the development of the tourism cluster of the region near the Black Sea,” Zelensky stated, speaking at the Ukrainian-Turkish business forum in Istanbul on 8 August.
It’s not Ukraine’s first rodeo when it comes to gaming legalisation. In 2015, the country approved draft legislation that would have authorised land-based casinos, sports betting, and online gambling.
However these plans ultimately failed to come to fruition, despite an effort to revive the legislation in 2017.
Gambling has been banned in Ukraine since 2009. According to the Ukrainian Finance Ministry estimates, if regulated, gambling could contribute up to UAH5bn ($196.5m) to the national budget.
“Currently, the gambling industry in Ukraine operates in a grey zone with organisers employing different strategies to legally bypass the ban,” noted CMS Ukraine lawyers Olga Belyakova, Mykola Heletiy and Maria Orlyk. “President Zelensky’s recently announced initiative could help resolve the issue of illegal gambling in Ukraine, but legalisation will not be possible until Ukraine’s parliament passes a relevant law.”