Anton Kuchukhidze on the problems and prospects of gambling during the war

Ukrainian Gambling Council (UGC) President Anton Kuchukhidze updated the SBC on how the liberalized gambling industry is planning for the future amidst the unknown consequences and effects of the brutal war.

The war that Russia has launched against Ukraine has severely damaged the national economy. Like most entertainment industries, legal gambling was hit hard by the fall in demand.

Traffic in the online sector declined by more than 80%. As in other business sectors, during the first months of the war, members of the UGC (Ukrainian Gambling Council) were busy in survival mode and urgent adaptation to the new reality. Legitimate businesses were able to save jobs, move employees to safe locations in Ukraine or abroad, and restore business processes.

Offline gambling establishments of UGC members closed in the first months of the war. Some enterprises remained in the temporarily occupied areas or near the front line. During the war, the only legal gambling establishments operating near the front line were several in Kharkov.

Despite the numerous problems that the legal gambling industry faces, its representatives fully support the state in its fight against Russia: members of the UGC have donated more than 200 million hryvnias (about 5.4 million US dollars) to the needs of the army and various humanitarian operations. In addition, 350 million hryvnias (over $9.4 million) were paid out in royalties.

Most of the companies started restructuring their business online and offline. Online operators, unsurprisingly, posted the highest growth rates. It is too early to talk about traffic, but it continues to grow. According to optimistic forecasts, the online gambling sector in Ukraine will reach pre-war levels by the end of this year.

There are wo important initiatives that will enhance market resilience and provide investors with new perspectives. First is a legislative initiative introduced by CRGL to give gambling operators the right to defer payment of license fees in accordance with martial law was accepted subject to their application for license suspension. And also the adoption of a special law 2713-d is expected, which will simplify the taxation of gambling and make it more understandable for market participants.

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