If we are to believe the news coming from Ukraine, this Eastern European country could be the next emerging gambling market.
Oleksandr Danylyuk, the Ukraine's finance minister has announced plans to reintroduce gambling throughout the country, which would generate additional revenues to the budget by next year.
These plans were confirmed in a letter sent by the prime minister Volodymyr Groysman to IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde, in which Groysman firmly stated the government would legalise gambling.
End of a Long Ban
Gambling was outlawed in Ukraine back in 2009, after nine people died in a fire in Dnipropetrovsk. The total ban came into effect in June, after the decree was signed by the president Yushchenko.
In only a month's time, more than 500 illegal casinos and slot halls were closed, while the authorities seized more than 6,000 slot machines and made more than 200 criminal charges.
Almost a year later, the Cabinet of Ministers removed gambling from the list of economic activities, which can be licensed.
It is interesting to mention that poker wasn't banned, but was recognized as a sport with the number of tournaments skyrocketing.
Plans For Reintroduction
The legal framework enabling the reintroduction of gambling was introduced two years ago. It would allow the legalisation of brick and mortar casinos, sports betting, state-franchised national lottery and online casinos.
The proposal called for the development of so called ‘gaming zones', where luxurious resorts with casinos would be built. However, the proposal wasn't quite appealing since it suggested extremely high license fees and taxes. The government estimated more than $370 million could have been gained on gambling over the past two years.
The government informed the IMF there would be no major tax cuts or new tax exemptions in due time, whereas the entire tax regime would be tighten from 2018. The preferential tax treatment will be applied only for companies operating in industrial zones.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the first casino in Ukraine – Split Casino – was opened in Kiev in 1992.