Rada approves SoP’s redrafted bill but heavy licensing fees remain on Ukraine’s gambling agenda

Following two day-long sessions of assessment, Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada completes its review of the eight draft bills propositioning the nation’s new gambling framework.

A vote carried on Thursday 16 December saw 260 MPs back the amendments of Bill 2285-D following its second Rada reading.

Bill 2285 was the original draft law favoured by the ruling ‘Servant of the People’ (SoP) party, which failed by 13 votes to secure a majority mandate on its first reading, forcing SoP to amend the document.

The rejection of the original Bill-2285 would allow for Ukraine Parliamentarians to submit seven alternative propositions to be reviewed by Rada, who undertook its assessment proceeding this week.

The new bill is reported to have been redrafted by party member Oleksandr Dubinsky. It received the highest appraisal by the Rada’s committee on finances and taxation.

The provisions of the redrafted Bill 2285-D allow for licenses in seven core ‘gambling activities’ – land-based casino, online casino, land-based betting, online sports betting, slots arcade, lotteries and online poker. Meanwhile, tech and software incumbents will have to register for a ‘Gambling Services’ license.

Seeking market investment, the Ukraine government will establish an ‘investor licence’ criteria to fund gambling investment projects, of which Bill 2285-D at present does not specify criteria.

Further amendments will see the government scrap its ‘auction licensing process’ and the fixed number of licenses that will be made available. Despite amending licensing conditions, international investors will be watchful of the government’s complex and costly licensing fee structures.

“Ukraine License fees are calculated on the basis of the level of minimal wage amount set by the Ukrainian budget law for each year,” read the initial assessment of Bill 2285-D by international law firm Dentons Russia/Ukraine unit.

“Starting from 1 January 2020 equals to 4,723 Hryvnia (approx. EUR 180); licensee fees are calculated on the basis of a 5-year term. For instance, the price of the casino license for Kyiv (hotel with more than 200 rooms) is calculated in the following way: EUR 180 * 60,000 (number of minimum wage amounts for such license according to the draft law) = EUR 10,800,000.”

Ukraine’s Rada maintains its commitment to establishing a new independent regulatory body, which will establish a registry monitoring gambling incumbents and their engagements.

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