The decade-long ban on gambling in Ukraine is officially over. On Tuesday, Ukraine’s parliament pushed through a bill to legalize gambling and boost budget revenues by approximately $150 million a year — a move that could be a boon to the live poker scene in Ukraine.
The move is designed to positively impact Ukraine’s economy, which has been hurt by a 6-year battle with Russia in the eastern part of the country, plus additional downward pressure from the COIVD-19 pandemic.
A proposal to legalize gambling earlier this year was struck down.
Under the proposal, it is expected that casinos, bookmakers, and slot operators will contribute the equivalent of $148 million to the state budget annually via license fees and taxes.
Oleh Marusyak, a Ukrainian lawmaker who authored the bill and is a member of the president’s Servant of the People party, argued that the legislation would ultimately help Ukraine fill state revenues and move funds from an industry that’s operating underground into government coffers.
According to the government, the funds would be earmarked for health, education, and sport projects. All gambling initiatives would be run under a newly created state regulator, which will issue licenses to gambling companies.
The legislations also notes that while companies will have to be registered in Ukraine, the founders can be foreigners. There is one exception, though: Russians. That’s not at all surprising given the fact that Ukraine and Russia are still at war.
Casinos, slot machines, and bookmakers will be permitted to operate in hotels with ratings ranging from three to five stars. It isn’t yet clear which properties will operate casinos or poker rooms, but Kyiv has a number of impressive 5-star hotels with space for casinos and poker rooms, including Hilton, Fairmont, Intercontinental, Hyatt Regency, and more.