The Ukraine Gambling Council (UGC) has thrown its hat into the ring regarding the recent sanctions imposed on betting companies by the Ukrainian government, particularly regarding Parimatch LLC.
Sharing a statement via the trade association’s LinkedIn, UGC Chair Anton Kuchukhidze stated that sanctioning of illegal firms has a positive purpose for the ‘white market’, and that countering ‘ruscists’ brands’ was an ‘imperative’ function of law enforcement.
However, he added that despite these responsibilities, the UGC believes that Parimatch Ukraine is anything but a pro-Russian brand and that the sanctions against it are likely the result of an error by law enforcement.
The statement read: “It is imperative that law enforcement agencies promptly and effectively oppose the operation of ruscists’ brands instead of Ukrainian ones, which direct their traffic to the territory of Ukraine and Ukrainian consumers.
“I believe that the inclusion of members of our association Parimatch LLC and PokerMatch .UA LLC in the sanctions lists is a mistake, and not a planned attack by law enforcement agencies against individual Ukrainian companies and against all legal gambling business in our country.”
Parimatch and PokerMatch both found themselves the target of an extensive enforcement campaign by the National Security and Defence Council of Ukraine (NSDC) last week, on a list of 287 companies and 120 individuals.
The NSDC’s sanction carries a 50-year suspension from conducting business in the Ukraine, and prevents businesses from withdrawing any capital allocated in the country and transfer of licences and intellectual property.
The firms and people featured on this list were accused of maintaining Russian business links and therefore operating against Ukraine’s interests, and the enforcement action was signed off on by President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky.
In response, Parimatch Ukraine closed down its website on Saturday, began to suspend all commercial partnerships and initiated refunding processes for all active customer accounts.
However, the firm has maintained its pro-Ukraine credentials, citing extensive efforts made to support the Ukrainian military and population in the year since the Russian invasion in February 2022 – something pointed to by the UGC.
The UGC Chairman continued: “I am convinced that Parimatch will be able to convey to all state agencies that it is right, because this brand took the principled pro-Ukrainian stance since the beginning of the large-scale invasion of ruscists in Ukraine.
“Parimatch stopped the operation of the franchise on the territory of the Russian Federation, and Ukrainian company PARIMATCH LLC began to systematically provide aid to all defence and security forces of Ukraine. To date, the company has allocated more than UAH 500 million for those purposes.”
Parimatch itself has appealed to President Zelensky to re-examine the NDSC’s enforcement decision, pointing to its Ukrainian roots – having been founded in Kyiv in 1994, now located in Cyprus.
On a wider scale, as mentioned above, the brand has suspended its commercial partnerships whilst other partners have terminated their own arrangements, such as football club FC Shakhtar Donetsk.
GR8 Tech – the global B2B tech firm which counts Parimatch as one of its clients – also revealed to SBC that it has suspended its contract with the firm, but will continue to operate as usual across the remainder of its international business.
Meanwhile, PokerMatch has also asserted its pro-Ukraine stance whilst reassuring partners that the sanctions have had no impact on its own international operations.
“The company is not abandoning its plans to develop new regions and continues to provide its existing customers with a full range of services, including fulfilling all its commitments,” the firm’s statement read.
“The PokerMatch brand also deeply regrets the inclusion of its partner in the sanctions list and considers this decision to be erroneous.”
Concluding his own assessment, UGC Chair Kuchukhidze argued that in cases of tax inconsistencies the government should act through tax services or courts instead of ‘the harshest measures’, minimising risk of law enforcement errors.
“The UGC is always open to all government agencies regarding providing the information about the state of the legal gambling business in Ukraine,” his statement ended.
“In addition to that, I would like to make a big request to the public and the media NOT to pick up the thesis of illegal gambling businesses that such a situation can lead to the failure of the reform or the closure of the white market. A legal gambling business will pass all trials with dignity.”