Ukraine fast-tracks gambling readings but bill questions remain

Mirroring European counterparts, Ukraine’s Rada (parliament) has had to undertake radical adjustments to counter COVID-19 impacts, affecting its legislative resources and timetable.

Facing a backlog of legislative readings, Rada’s situation is further undermined as President Volodymyr Zelensky ordered a sweeping senior cabinet reshuffle in March, having fallen out with influential first minister Oleksiy Honcharuk.

Nevertheless, Zelensky’s SoP Party has maintained its 2020 schedule of finalising provisions attached to Bill-2285D, and returning regulated gambling to Ukraine by the end of the year.

The last reading of Bill-2285D ‘Gambling Law’ was undertaken at the end of January, as MPs reviewed much-criticised tax drafts alongside unsatisfactory counter amendments.

Silence was cast on the bill’s progress until this week, when Danylo Hetmantsev – Head of Rada’s finance committee – stated in an interview that Gambling Law readings would be fast-tracked by a Parliamentary committee.

Hetmantsev underlined that the committee’s actions did not favour approving Bill-2285D into law. Instead, the minister highlighted that the Bill had been swamped by over 3,500 amendments submitted to its draft proposals on developing Ukraine’s federal gambling framework.

Hetmantsev, a key economic advisor to President Zelensky, expressed his confidence that SoP would finalise Gambling Law legislations by the end of the year, maintaining a key pledge to revitalise Ukraine’s business and enterprise.

Despite this confidence, Ukraine observers remain sceptical as the government has yet to meaningfully define key provisions related to licensing conditions, tax arrangements, industry standards and competition rules.

The approval of Bill-2285D was hailed as SoP’s first Rada victory. Nevertheless, it now appears that the bill’s bare framework’s passage into law will be a much tougher journey.

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