Ukraine

Gambling in Ukraine

 Gambling is legal in Ukraine since 2020 (officially Україна, the second largest country in Europe, a poorer Eastern European country, in a border conflict with Russia over the Crimean peninsula, not a member of the EU, has a population of 41.2 million).

Online gambling is legal in Ukraine since 2020.

Due to the Ukraine – Russia war all gambling establishments are closed, and all gambling events are suspended until further notice. We hope for a swift resolution to the war, with as little loss in civilian and military lives as possible.

ukraine

History of Gambling in Ukraine

1991

Ukraine is Born

Ukraine is a very young country, it only exists as independent entity since 1991. Gambling was legal, ever since the foundation of Ukraine.

1991
1991-2009

Golden Age of Gambling

The period prior to the gambling ban of 2009 is often described as the “golden age of gambling” in Ukraine. And indeed, the sector was thriving, but sadly for all the wrong reasons: lax regulations, widespread corruption and organized crime involvement.

1991-2009
May 2009

Dnipropetrovsk Fire

In 2009 May, a fire broke out in a Metro Jack Pot slot hall in the eastern Ukrainian city of Dnipropetrovsk (nowadays called Dnipro). 9 were killed and 11 were seriously injured in the conflagration. Since then, the death toll has risen to 10, one additional person died due complications and the majority of the injured have to live with permanent health consequences for the rest of their lives. 
Also, even though the media calls this a “casino fire”, in actuality Metro Jack Pot was a slot hall, not a true casino. As a result of the incident, all casinos, gambling halls, slot halls, poker clubs, and even night clubs were shut down in the city, until they could be properly checked for safety. Later that year, the moral outrage against corrupt and underregulated gambling establishments grew so large (it was politically charged, and there was a frenzied media witch hunt).

May 2009
June 23rd, 2009

Gambling Ban Law

The 2009 law, called “On Prohibition of Gambling Business in Ukraine”, or in short, Gambling Ban Law, prohibited all gambling operations within the country, except the lottery, which is a state monopoly.
Many protested this decision, because Ukraine had a blossoming gambling sector, which provided employment for thousands, and despite the rampant tax evasion and offshore bank accounts, it generated significant tax revenues. Despite the opposition, the legislation was signed into law on 2009 June 23, by President Viktor Yushchenko (effective from 2010).

June 23rd, 2009
2010

Gambling Banned

Eventually, by 2010 all gambling facilities were banned in the country. Even online gambling websites, which really had nothing to do with it, were thrown under the bus, ending the slowly growing Ukrainian internet gambling sector. This forced all players to visit unlicensed, illegally operating online gambling sites, which don’t pay any taxes. The whole reason the accident happened is because of corruption, and negligence. They bypassed fire safety regulations, never did mandatory checks and maintenance. They were violating almost every single fire safety regulation imaginable, and they just bribed inspectors to just sign the papers (the inspectors who signed it were jailed for life).
Additionally, they were the perfect the scapegoat, and the disaster helped to bolster the fading popularity and approval of then president Viktor Yushchenko (never reelected as a president ever since).

2010
2011

Law Amended

However, because of a loophole in the original legislation, gambling providers could simply move their operations abroad and offer their services over the internet to Ukrainian players, which they of course they attempted. The law was amended in 2011 to address this flaw.
Since 2011 all forms of gambling (online and offline) were banned in Ukraine (except the state run lottery of course, and interestingly offline non-banking poker, which is in between gambling and a game of skill, that’s why it remained legal).
Before the ban, the gambling business had been thriving. According to information from Ukrainian Gaming Week, revenues increased from €246 million to €967 million between 2005 and 2008. The composition was the following: slot machines accounted for €705 million of this revenue; casinos for €37 million; lottery-like games (excluding the state-owned lottery) for €66 million;
and betting companies for €158 million.
 Operators were paying hundreds of millions of EUR in taxes and tens of millions in gambling permit fees.

2011
2020

Relegalization

Relegalization of gambling Ukraine. This includes online gambling as well.

2020
2021

Unlicensed Operators Banned

Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) started forcing internet service providers to block access to unlicensed gambling websites. However, players, who mistakenly place bets with unlicensed gambling operators don’t seem to be fined or prosecuted in any way for now.
Playing on unlicensed gambling websites is illegal, only online gambling sites with a valid Ukraine internet gambling and betting license can accept players legally since 2020.

2021
2022

War

Ukraine – Russia war, all gambling establishments are closed until further notice.

2022

Can tourists play online from Ukraine? 

Yes, the laws discussed on this webpage only apply to Ukraine citizens, and does not apply to tourists. Tourists (expats, non-citizens, illegal migrants) can play online freely. However, unlicensed foreign gambling websites will be blocked by the internet service providers, and won’t be accessible, while you are using the Ukraine internet infrastructure.

Betting on blood sports in Ukraine

All forms of blood sports are considered animal cruelty, and are illegal in Ukraine. Betting on blood sports is also illegal.

Ukraine Gambling Licenses

Gambling licenses are issued, overseen, and managed by the Ukrainian Gambling Council (Всеукраїнська Рада Гемблінгу). You have to contact them if you wish to set up any sort of gambling business in Ukraine. Their website is available in English as well, although not everything is translated into English.

The following gambling licenses are available since the the 2020 gambling relegalisation:

  • land-based casino
  • slot machine hall
  • land-based and online betting (combined, includes sports betting and online sports betting)
  • offline hippodrome pool betting, horse racing betting
  • poker hall
  • online casino gambling
  • online poker
  • lottery license (special, requires public concession, maximum 3 licenses)
  • betting shop

If you apply for a casino license you need the following two licenses as well:

  • gaming table license
  • slot machine license

There is no limit on the number of casino licenses. However, casinos must be connected to five-star hotels in the capital city, Kiev, and four-star hotels in the countryside.

The license fee is $2 million for hotels with a capacity of more than 150 rooms, per year, and $1 million for hotels with a capacity of over 100 rooms but less than 150 rooms, per year, per licence.

Hotels with three stars can only operate slot machines. The license fee of such a slot parlour is $250,000 per year, and $100 per month for each slot machine. The facilities can have up to 50-250 machines with a single license. And hotels below 3 stars can not operate any sort of gambling establishment.

The online casino license fee is $1,150,000, for 5 years, for one website.

The license fee for bookmakers or online bookmakers is $ 1 million per year (per bookmaker, or per online sports betting website) plus $500 per month.

Three lottery licenses are also available, sold through an auction process, bidding for each will start at $500 000, annually. Lottery retailers can not have video lottery terminals and other electronic lottery devices or online lottery platforms.

An online poker license costs $170,000 per website, for 5 years.

These license fees are pretty steep, considering that these fees are in addition to the taxes (details can be found in the taxation section below).

The main problem with the high fees and taxation is that the online casinos will have to compete with the unlicensed online gambling sites, because gambling was banned for 10 years, and now everyone uses these offshore gambling websites. And these unlicensed gambling companies don’t pay any taxes in Ukraine, meaning, they will easily outcompete the local taxpaying gambling websites.

Ukraine Gambling Taxation

The applicable tax rates are set by the Tax Code of Ukraine5. The following are the gambling tax rates in Ukraine.

Ukraine gambling taxation
Activity:Tax rate:Tax base:
general gambling tax18%gross gambling revenue
slot machines10%gross gambling revenue
lottery30%gross gambling revenue
winnings tax1.5%winnings of players

This is on top of regular taxes (e.g: corporate tax, which is 18%). Gambling is VAT exempt.

The gambling tax rates are actually average, by European standards (high by international standards).

For the players, taxation of gambling winnings: All gambling winnings are taxable, 18% personal income tax rate applies.

This applies to everything: offline gambling establishments, domestic online platforms, if you are on a vacation and you win money, and even applies to unlicensed foreign online gambling websites (which are illegal to use).

Gambling age Ukraine: the legal gambling age in Ukraine is 21+ (except lottery, which is 18+)

Other:

Virtual sports betting, fantasy football, are illegal in Ukraine.

Social gambling is not considered gambling.

Loot boxes, or similar digital gambling like activity with virtual goods are not considered gambling, and are not regulated.

Crimea is no longer a part of Ukraine (despite them claiming otherwise), you can find the gambling laws applicable to Crimea.

List of online gambling sites, which accept players from Ukraine

The following online gambling websites accept players from Ukraine. They all accept players from the country, and are accessible from within the country, at the time of writing. If they no longer accept players from Ukraine, or if they are blocked for some reason, please leave a message in the comments section, so I can investigate it.

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Article credit: https://simonsblogpark.com/onlinegambling/simons-guide-to-ukraine-gambling-online-betting-sites/

Sources, and main pieces of the Ukraine gambling legislation:

1Business & Human Rights Resource Centre – Dnipropetrovsk slot machine hall fire kills 9, injures 11 [Ukraine]

2Twocircles.net – Ten dead in fire at Ukrainian slot machine arcade

3Squire Sanders Legal Counsel Gambling Business Prohibited in Ukraine

4CIS Legislation – July 14, 2020 No. 768-IX – About State Regulation of Activities for the Organization and Execution of Gambling (English)

5World Trade Organization – Tax Code of Ukraine

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