The Ukrainian gambling market has had an extremely dynamic history since its legalisation following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

Currently, Ukraine is a vibrant market for the betting industry, being the home sector for well-known international brands with a strong sporting presence such as Parimatch.

There are several forms of legal gambling in Ukraine, including land-based casinos, online casinos, both online and offline sports betting, and offline poker – the latter of which is recognised as a sport in the country, but must be played offline, organised as a tournament and feature a prize pool with fixed player buy-ins.

However, this was not always the case. Following Ukraine’s independence from the USSR, the industry grew quickly during the 1990s, expanding from a single casino in the basement of a Kiev hotel at the start of the decade to encompassing the whole country – including slot machine installations in multiple businesses – but political opposition remained.

This opposition reached its crescendo in 2009 following the outbreak of a large fire at a gambling hall which resulted in multiple deaths. 

This tragic event was followed by complete prohibition of the industry, signed into effect by President of Ukraine Viktor Yushchenko on 23 June.

Although the then-President personally opposed the ban due to the sector’s support for over 200,000 jobs, as well as its financial impact on the Ukraineian budget, legislators moved ahead with the proposals and the market was shut down on 25 June 2009.

Earlier attempts at regulating the industry had seen all free-standing slot machines removed from various enterprises in 2005, and prior to this in 1996, it was decreed that casino operators needed a government issued patent in addition to appropriate licencing.

A decade after the initial ban – and following a change in government – President Volodymyr Zelenskyy began to work to re-legalise and re-regulate Ukraine’s gambling sector, achieving his goal in October 2020.

The new President established the Gambling and Lotteries Commission, responsible for licencing and certification and general monitoring of the market and industry control, and consisting of six people and headed by the Chairman.

Source – Slotregator YouTube Channel

Ukraine’s gambling industry was discussed earlier this year at the SBC Digital CIS conference, featuring Boris Baum, Deputy Advisor to the Head of the President’s Office of Ukraine; Levgeniia Derbal, Chief Legal Officer, Parimatch; Dr. Ekaterina Hartmann, Director of Legal and Regulatory Affairs, European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) and Ilya Machavariani, Senior Partner, 4H Agency.

Ukrainian gambling: From prohibition to regulation