Hotel gambling bill filed in Ukrainian Parliament

21 October 2019

A long-awaited bill allowing for gambling at hotels has been filed in the Ukrainian parliament, the Verkhovna Rada.

The full text of the bill is not available on the Verkhovna Rada’s portal, but according to the Ukrainian government, the bill will allow for slot machines at three, four and five-star hotels as well as casinos exclusively at five-star venues.

The government also stated that the bill will limit the number of licenses, gambling establishments and gaming equipment, introduce a mandatory verification system administered by the country’s tax office. The legislation will also introduce mandatory certification of gambling equipment, increase financial and criminal penalties for unlicensed gambling activities and spend money collected from gambling taxes on sports, medicine and culture.

“Adoption of this bill will solve the problem of the spread of illegal gambling and limit the spread of gambling,” the government said. “The legalisation of the gambling business will also allow the budget to receive up to UAH5bn ($154.7m/€180.1m/$200.9m), but the final figures of the expected budget revenues will depend on the version in passed into law by parliament.”

The gambling bill was approved by cabinet ministers in September and by president Volodymyr Zelensky, who said he hoped the bill would boost tourism in the country last week (14 October). Zelensky also revealed last week that hotels in Kiev applying for a gambling licence will need at least 200 rooms, while hotels elsewhere will need at least 150.

On 3 September, Zelensky called for legislation to legalise gambling in the country in a meeting with party leaders following July’s parliamentary election.

All gambling except state-run lotteries became illegal in Ukraine in 2009, after nine people were killed in a fire at a slots parlour in Dnipropetrovsk in the east of the nation. However, the country has looked to reintroduce legal gambling since 2015, when a new bill to legalise and regulate gambling activities across the country was introduced.

The country’s government had previously pledged in April 2017 to legalise gambling by 2018.