Ukraine’s regulated gambling marketplace has been brought into disrepute following the arrest of a member of newly formed regulatory agency – The Commission for the Regulation of Gambling and Lotteries (KRAIL).
Last Friday, NABU – Ukraine’s federal anti-corruption bureau – issued a statement confirming the arrest of an unnamed member of KRAIL, who was charged with “receiving an illegal benefit in the amount of $90,000”.
NABU’s warrant disclosed that “the official demanded funds for assistance in granting permits and licenses in the gambling business”.
Carrying out ‘covert investigations’ during the summer of 2021, NABU stated that it had uncovered “the existence of a system of obtaining illegal benefits in especially large amounts for the issuance of permits and licenses for the right to engage in gambling”.
The bureau stated it had documented evidence that a member of KRAIL had been provided with illegal benefits to influence decisions taken by the regulator with regards to granting licences for gambling premises in the cities of Chernihiv and Zaporizhzhia.
The warrant revealed that at the time of the offences, the member of KRAIL “was acting chairman of the Commission” – a revelation that saw Ukrainian media point to Evgeny Getman as the likely offender having “carried the status during the summer”.
In turn, KRAIL issued a response warning “citizens against premature conclusions, since the presumption of innocence, enshrined in the provisions of Part 2 of Article 2 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine, protects a person from criminal punishment until his guilt is legally proven and established by a court conviction”.
Deemed as a key market requisite for the establishment of ‘Ukraine Gambling Law’, the KRAIL regulatory agency was formed last November, to be led as an independent organisation by former Ukraine special forces general Ivan Rudyi.
The arrest of a high-ranking KRAIL member will be regarded as a further embarrassing setback for Ukraine’s gambling market, which received its Presidential assent last summer without providing incumbents with final resolutions on market taxation, licensing fees and technical accreditations.
To date, only three operators have secured Gambling Law online licences – Cosmolot, Parimatch and Vbet (BetConstruct).
Rejected incumbents have criticised the KRAIL regulatory approach for offering no oversight as to why licences had been denied or accepted in light of Gambling Law still requiring key provisions on technical frameworks.