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Ukraine targets new gambling law

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky has directed his government to legalize gambling in an effort to combat the shadow economy and stimulate investment activity in the country.

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.

A few days ago, Zelensky issued the directive aiming to improve the business climate in Ukraine, revise existing labour legislation and introduce a single e-services system for citizens. It includes a plan for new gambling law and Zelensky expects that the government will prepare and submit the bills on the legalization of the gambling business and amber-mining before October 1. This would make possible for the local parliament to accept it before December 1, 2019.

Ukraine outlawed nearly all forms of gambling back in 2009 during Viktor Yushchenko administration. 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.

According to the Ministry of Finance 2014/15 study, a legalized Ukranian gambling market would generate about UAH 5 billion (€170m) of additional tax revenue.

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