Ukraine Rada approves unclear Gambling Law for second readings

Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada (parliament) Finance Committee has approved Bill-2285D to be forwarded for second readings.

Yesterday, Committee member Andrei Motovilovets declared that the Committee ‘unanimously supports the formation of a new market’, and sanctioned second readings for the SoP Party’s ‘Gambling Law’ mandate.

The approval sees Rada update its parliamentary schedule to host a dedicated readings session on final provisions from 16-19 June. SoP has maintained its legislative timetable to approve the Gambling Law by the end of 2020.

Despite the approval, RADA members questioned the Finance Committee’s review of Bill-2285D, after a reported 21 delegates approved the mandate for second readings without disclosing any information on amendments.

Yaroslav Zheleznyak, MP for the VOICE party, decried that the Finance Committee had forwarded Gambling Law readings on the behest of SoP, who would be unable to secure 150 signatures to progress its bill.

In May, the Rada Finance Committee allowed SoP to fast-track readings of the ‘Gambling Law’, despite President Volodymyr Zelensky ordering a cabinet reshuffle having fallen out with influential first minister Oleksiy Honcharuk.

SoP critics believe that the Zelensky government has been able to progress its gambling bill without providing any transparency on key elements that will dictate the marketplace. 

Of concern, SoP has yet to shed light on how it will handle the state’s relationship with powerful lottery monopolies Patriot, MSL and UNL who have demanded first rights on concessions to expand their portfolios.

 Meanwhile, industry observers have questioned SoP’s legislative approach in sanctioning a high-cost licensing system for gambling services, in which incumbents will be further burdened by double-digit GGR % tax rates across all gambling verticals. 

Further criticism has also been directed at SoP MPs for refusing to replicate proven gambling market provisions established by European jurisdictions such as the UK, Sweden and France.

Should second readings advance, stakeholders will still question whether the country is capable of launching its radical gambling framework in 2021.   

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