It’s been more than 12 months since the war in Ukraine broke out. During times of conflict, businesses continue to operate to the best of their ability to keep the economy ticking over – this has been particularly evident for igaming companies based in Ukraine.
In the third instalment of a five-part roundtable series in collaboration with Bet On Good Foundation, we spoke with a handful of businesses based in Ukraine to discuss why we should still be investing in them despite the ongoing war.
There are a large number of igaming companies based in Ukraine, many of whom are still operating despite the circumstances. What would you say to remind stakeholders of the importance and relevance of Ukraine and Ukraine-based companies when it comes to current and future investments?
Vlad Slyusarenko, CEO of Bet on Good Foundation: Yes, against the backdrop of this war, many could forget that Ukraine is one of the top European countries in terms of the development of the IT sector and its presence in everyday life of an ordinary citizen. In our country, most of the public services have been digitalised. There is a large number of developed digital banks and a fantastic number of excellent IT services/applications that solve everyday tasks in two clicks. In addition, we will soon have the legalisation of cryptocurrency. Before the war, the government took several measures to simplify the activities of the casino and bookmakers in the country. And you know, it seems that after the war, we all expect an even more active government movement towards simplifying economic activities for citizens and non-residents; the economy needs creativity and speed.
Ukraine is a great country for business development, including gambling. Indeed, recently the market has become regulated, and the activity of its development is only gaining momentum. Setting up a business here is more accessible than in many European countries. Relatively low taxes and rent, a hugely diverse country where everyone can choose a corner to their liking.
But what is most important is that Ukrainians are incredibly hard working, courageous, and flexible. Only Ukrainians could adapt to the system of blackouts in such a way when in some cities, there is no electricity for eight to 12 hours, and they still manage to do all the household chores and work without loss and impact on their productivity. So yes, Ukraine will definitely not be deprived of the attention of representatives of the world’s strongest economies.
After this war, we have no reason not to develop and strive to become a family of developed countries. We really want to show the world how cool we are and how open we are to cooperation, friendship and mutually beneficial growth.
Evgen Belousov, GR8 Tech CEO: For a year of the full-scale invasion Ukrainians have shown lots of examples for tremendous resilience, bravery and unity. People became the key element that drives business and supports the army, keeps the country’s economy running while setting the stage for future rebuilding and transformation.
Investors should take note of the opportunities that Ukraine offers. Ukraine-based companies passed the greatest risk test ever – they can deliver everything according to contact even in time of war. It’s important to support business that fulfils obligations and delivers according to terms, despite risks, security or any analytics prognoses.
Ukraine also has a highly skilled workforce, with a strong background in technology and innovation. Ukrainian specialists are known on the global stage for their stress resistance, flexibility, and creative approaches to new challenges. And the invasion proved well enough that invincibility is the genetic code of Ukrainians. Therefore, investors should consider Ukraine and Ukraine-based companies when looking for opportunities to invest in the future.
Ivan Kravchuk, CEO of Evoplay: I strongly believe that it is of utmost importance to continue partnering with Ukrainian companies. We’re an incredibly important part of the industry, as I’m sure most people already know, and despite the unimaginable challenges our people face in the face of aggression, we do everything we can to make sure we keep contributing as best we can.
For all of those looking to invest, now is the time to do so. In the face of great adversity and upheaval, the igaming industry in Europe has stood by us, and we will always do the same for them. I truly believe this is a testament to the Ukrainian character and strength – who are resilient and hard-working under any circumstances, as well as undoubtedly being top specialists in their field.
Gal Ehrlich, CEO of BETER: It is vital that Ukrainian businesses continue to operate as this supports the economy and ultimately the people while showing Russia that the country will not back down. Ukraine is facing challenges that no other European country has faced in the last 80 years, and its people are doing it with dignity. They have come together as a united force, with the army receiving tremendous civilian support as they continue to fight back against the Russian invasion. That this is being done while businesses continue to not only survive but thrive is remarkable.
Ukrainian people are like no other. They are smart, creative, loyal and passionate about their work and their country. This is what makes them such attractive employees for gambling companies, many of which have offices in Ukraine. Before the war, the sector was really gaining traction and with tremendous progress being made in terms of regulation and the thriving industry community that had started to emerge. Our team attended the SBC CIS Summit held in Kyiv in 2021, for example, which we thought marked the arrival of Ukraine as a development hub for the CIS region.
Ukraine will defeat Russia, and I really hope that once the dust has settled gambling companies will continue to invest even more in the country. As the CEO of a company that has a big team in Ukraine, I know first-hand the tremendous potential that exists within this incredible place and among its people. If it wasn’t for the war, I think many other companies would be opening offices in Ukraine to leverage the huge opportunities on the table.
Daniel Heywood, CEO of NuxGame: Ukraine is a hub for talented tech professionals and has a growing igaming industry. This is complemented by the country’s favourable business environment, supportive government policies and the large pool of skilled workers in fields such as IT, engineering, design, and marketing.
As there is a lot of innovation in the region, Ukraine-based igaming companies offer competitive services and products, making them attractive investment opportunities. Additionally, the country’s proximity to Europe and access to EU markets make it a prime strategic location for businesses.
Despite the difficult circumstances, Ukraine is a great prospective country for investment that gets through all challenges with dignity. Having seen all the country has to offer to the igaming industry, it is somewhere to consider investing in and now is the best time to do so.
Ruslan Kravchuk, Director of HR, Playson: Ukraine and Ukraine-based companies are a great choice for investments for several reasons. Market potential is the first of these as Ukraine has a growing market with a population of over 42 million people. This provides a large pool of highly educated and skilled workers, making it an attractive location for foreign investment. Ukraine is also a strategic location as it is at the crossroads of Europe and Asia, making it a hub for businesses looking to expand into these markets.
In addition to that, Ukraine’s IT sector continues to trend in the right direction, with a large pool of talented software developers and product-oriented individuals and managers. Ukraine is home to many IT outsourcing companies, providing cost-effective solutions for clients from around the world.
The English Proficiency Index shows 83% in the IT sector demonstrate intermediate or an upper-intermediate level of English. Without a doubt, we are going through a major mindset transformation where it is clear for everyone in Ukraine that we want to continue as a part of the western world.
Igor Terebinov, Deputy CEO at PokerMatch: I believe that Ukrainians have already shown to the whole world how resilient and unbreakable they are. The army, volunteers, civil servants, ordinary citizens and businesses. Ukrainian business works efficiently even in such terrible conditions (not to mention the motivation in peaceful times), and this is due to the involvement and workaholism of Ukrainian specialists.
The gambling sector in Ukraine is considered young but very promising. This can be seen in the pace of development of newly created brands and the speed of their development, in their creativity, quick decision-making, courage, and technology.
Ukrainian gaming businesses have already become an example for many European brands in how to combine the principles of social responsibility, patriotism, and entertainment. We are passionate and flexible. We have experienced a significant number of economic crises in a short period of time, but we still find ways to overcome each of them.
By investing in Ukrainian business, you can get benefits in the form of one hundred percent commitment to your business, motivation, and extensive expertise. The regulatory system also works well. Therefore, I am confident that after the victory, Ukraine has every opportunity to become a centre of IT technologies and a European leader in the gambling sector.