A Ukraine casino gambling bill that would allow internet betting has passed its first reading in Parliament, a monumental step for the Eastern European country.
Bill 2285-D, legislation to allow regulated gambling in certain hotels and online, passed the 450-deputy unicameral parliament by a vote of 260 in favor. Only a simple majority was needed to advance the statute.
The bill, if it becomes law, would authorize land-based casinos, online gambling, sports betting, and lotteries. Only five-star hotels would be permitted to incorporate gaming spaces into their facilities.
For hotels with 200-250 rooms, bidding for a casino permit would start at UAH41.7 million ($1.72 million). For resorts with 251 or more rooms, the license minimum would elevate to nearly $2.6 million. Conducting internet casino operations is set to start at UAH6.7 million ($280,000).
European and Russian-facing gaming companies celebrated 2285-D.
The adoption of Bill 2285-D in its first reading is the first step towards creating a fair and transparent gambling market, which will in turn attract investment and introduce new technology to the country,” Pari-Match, an online gaming bookmaker and casino operator, said in a statement.
Pari-Match added, “Once legalized, the market will create thousands of jobs, contribute to both state and local budgets, lead to an increase in tourism, and will help to counter corruption in professional sports. Also, the increased tax revenues generated will provide much-needed funds to support culture, medicine, and sports in Ukraine.”
How Bills Become Law
Ukraine’s casino and online gambling bill would create as many as 20 hotel casinos and 10 licensed internet platforms. The gambling age is set at 21, and a special government agency would be established to monitor the casinos.
Each casino is to measure at least 500 square meters (5,382 square feet). The bill says no more than a total of 40,000 slot machines are to be approved across the 20 land-based venues.
Unlike in the US Congress, where a bill must pass two legislative chambers, Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada Parliament is the sole legislative authority. But before the bill heads to President Volodymyr Zelensky’s desk, it must first pass an additional two readings.
Ukraine, which declared its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, saw its economy crumble when Russia annexed Crimea in early 2014. A recession ensued through 2017.
Economic growth has recovered, and The International Monetary Fund (IMF) projects a domestic product increase of three percent growth in 2020. The IMF believes consumer prices will rise almost six percent.
IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said last month that she commends Zelensky “for the impressive progress that he and his government have made in the past few months in advancing reforms and continuing with sound economic policies.”
With licensing and associated taxes, the Ukraine government estimates the gambling bill could generate more than $200 million annually for the country.