Ukrainian Gambling Council criticizes bill No. 10101 with hidden benefits for lottery lobby
KYIV. Nov 10 (Interfax-Ukraine) – Bill No. 10101, initiated by the Financial Committee of the Verkhovna Rada "On improving legislation in the field of organizing and conducting gambling and state lotteries," will distort competition in the market and give unjustified advantages to lottery organizers, the Ukrainian Gambling Council (UGC) believes.
"When we saw bill No. 10101, we realized that all this was being done to ensure that state-owned lottery operators returned to the land-based market, and when we read the licensing conditions, we realized that they wanted to return to the online market," Serhiy Ivanenko, the UGC coordinator on the development of land-based gambling establishments, said at a press conference at Interfax-Ukraine.
According to him, according to the document, lottery operators are given the opportunity to conduct bookmaking activities, manage slot machine halls without limiting the number and being tied to hotels, as well as organize online casinos, also without limiting the number of distribution sites, while paying an annual license fee of UAH 18.76 million for one type of activity – organizing lotteries, while a separate license for bookmaking activities costs six times more – UAH 120.6 million per year.
In addition, lottery companies are granted a license for 10 years, while gambling operators are given a license for five years with an annual fee, Ivanenko added.
Experts at the press conference said that the activities of lotteries are not subject to a number of restrictions on advertising, the need to introduce the principles of responsible gambling, mandatory prevention of gambling addiction and identification of the age of players, etc.
The head of the UGC, Anton Kuchukhidze, said that the appearance of such bills delays the adoption of more necessary initiatives for the development of the gambling sector, in particular, bill No. 2713-D on amendments to the Tax Code on the taxation of income from the organization and conduct of gambling and lotteries. He recalled that the bill had already been adopted at the first reading and is aimed at streamlining taxation in the field of gambling.
"I would like to remind you that (Ukrainian licenses) are the most expensive licenses in the world: now operators pay... the triple price for these licenses, because our parliamentarians were unable to pass bill No. 2713-D, which aligns this norm with those parameters that are more or less fit the country's realities," Ivanenko said.
He called for consideration of the bill at the second reading and equalization of working conditions with lottery market participants.