Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada has returned bill No. 2285-d on the public regulation of activities in the sphere of organization of gambling for refining by the committee and preparing it for repeated first reading. The document was registered in parliament on December 18.
An Interfax-Ukraine correspondent has reported that MPs did not support the bill at first reading casting only 213 votes with at least 226 required, while 243 MPs backed the decision to send the document for repeated first reading.
As reported, the Cabinet of Ministers registered bill No. 2285 in the parliament, and MPs submitted seven more alternative documents, among is finalized bill No. 2285-d, authored by MP Oleksandr Dubinsky (the Servant of the People parliamentary faction).
The bill proposes to limit the number of licenses for gambling establishments. In addition, it is proposed to establish mandatory verification of players when accepting bets and registering winners in the online monitoring system.
At the same time, the government bill proposes to establish special gambling zones for casinos and slot machines: the territory of five-star hotels for casinos and three star and higher rated hotels for slot machines.
The law on the national budget for 2020 provides for revenues from licenses in the field of gambling in the amount of UAH 4.4 billion, which will be sent to the budget’s special fund, and everything that exceeds the amount specified in the law will be spent on subventions to local budgets to finance various educational and healthcare programs.
The majority of Ukrainian citizens do not support legalization of gambling in the country, according to a poll conducted by the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology (KIIS) on December 1 through December 12 as part of the KIIS Omnibus regular multi-targeted population survey.
To the question “Do you support the legalization of the gambling business?” 56% of respondents said they did not fully support it. Another 19% of respondents support the legalization of gambling, but on condition that special gambling zones are made for this or the places are localized. Only 18% of respondents fully support the legalization of gambling.
At the same time, the respondents were asked what games can be legalized in Ukraine. Almost half of the respondents (49.7%) believe that they can be lotteries, 22.1% – bookmakers’ odds, 18.7% – casinos, 9.5% – online casinos, 6.9% – gambling with cards. Some 37% said that none of the gambling can be legalized in Ukraine.
According to the results of the study, 52% of the inhabitants of Ukraine react negatively about the fact that President Volodymyr Zelensky approves the legalization of gambling. 35% of respondents have a positive attitude to this initiative of the president. 62% of respondents know that several bills on the legalization of gambling are under consideration in the Verkhovna Rada.
The survey was conducted in 110 populated settlements (PSU) in all regions of Ukraine, except for Crimea and the uncontrolled areas of Donetsk and Luhansk regions. During the field stage, 2,043 questionnaires were collected. The statistical error of the sample (with a probability of 0.95 and with a design effect of 1.5) does not exceed 3.3% for indicators close to 50%, 2.8% for indicators close to 25%, 2.0% for indicators close to 12%, and 1.4% for indicators close to 5%.
The Parliamentary Budget Committee recommended that the Verkhovna Rada consider the redistribution of gambling proceeds for the construction and reconstruction of swimming pools, the development of sports and water supply in the villages when considering the state budget for 2020, according to the committee’s conclusions to draft state budget No.2000.
According to the conclusions, members of the parliamentary committee recommend to increase financing of the program “Development of physical culture, sports of the highest achievements and reserve sports” by UAH 431.3 million, including UAH 411.3 million meant for a special fund at the expense of payments for gambling licenses.
Besides, the committee members also proposed to establish a budget subsidy program for the construction of new and reconstruction of existing 50-meter and 20-meter swimming pools in the amount of UAH 200 million for the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports with financing provided with the proceeds from these licenses.
Another UAH 150 million from these funds proposed to allocate for the budget program “Priority provision of rural settlements with centralized water supply”.
In addition, the document envisages reduction of expenses for the support of the National Public Television and Radio Company of Ukraine by UAH 300 million, while increasing the costs of supporting the newspaper “Holos Ukrainy” (Voice by Ukraine) by UAH 300 million, reads the document.
At the same time, the committee proposed to cut by UAH 130 million development expenditures under the budget program “Utilization of solid rocket fuel” and to increase the expenses for the program for scientific and technical activities in the agro-industrial complex by UAH 200 million.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has not ruled out that gambling licenses could be issued if there is a prospect for building a new hotel or the licenses could be issued at a lower price if a hotel expands the number of rooms. “We have five-star hotels on the market, but they are very small. So far there is no way to make a casino there. We need a test… We want hotels to be built. Perhaps if, for example, it is a boutique hotel, then maybe we will give them licenses, which should cost a little more,” Zelensky said during a press marathon on Thursday.
“If this is a very big brand hotel, we can give a license, while they build a hotel for us,” he added.
The president also said that the proceeds from the sale of licenses should go to sports, medicine or education.
As reported, the Cabinet of Ministers has prepared a bill on the legalization of gambling business, which regulates lotteries, bookmakers, poker, casinos and slot machines. At the same time, the government plans to create a special body – a commission for the development and regulation of gambling, which should be coordinated by the government. At the same time, an online gambling equipment supervision system is provided on the basis of the State Tax Service. At the same time, the bill provides for the identification of players by passport data and identification code.
Around 40% of polled Ukrainians back the initiative of legalizing gambling in the country in general, almost half of them believe that lotteries should be permitted, according to a poll conducted by the Rating sociological group late September.
According to the results of the survey, 11% of respondents believe that gambling should be legalized in Ukraine without any restrictions, 27% support legalization, but subject to the creation of special zones for gambling. At the same time, almost 60% do not support legalization under any circumstances.
Almost half of the respondents believed that lotteries should be allowed in Ukraine, a quarter – bets in bookmakers and casinos. The worst attitude is towards the legalization of online casinos (12%), slot machines (12%), and playing cards for money (11%).
Some 25% of respondents rate themselves as people with gambling addictions, while the majority (73%) do not consider themselves having with gambling addictions. More people with gambling addictions are men, youth, and people with higher incomes.
The survey was conducted on September 27-30. Audience is Ukrainian population 18 years and older. The sample is representative by age, gender, region, and type of settlement. A total of 2,000 respondents were interviewed (face-to-face). The representativeness error of the study is no more than 2.2%.
A bill which legalizes gambling in Ukraine was approved by the national government on September 29, according to a statement posted on the government’s website.
According to the bill, “gambling will be allowed exclusively on hotel premises through use of gambling equipment and software that comply with international standards.”
Seeking “de-criminalization of the economy,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky tasked the government and the parliamentary majority with elaborating and adopting before December 1, 2019, laws legitimizing the gambling industry and amber production.