Anton Kuchukidze: “When we adopt tax changes I could say that legalization is finalized”

The Ukrainian Gambling Council is the biggest professional NGO in Ukraine in the gambling industry. 80% of the entire legal market of the country are members of the association. Among them are more than 14 legal operators from various areas of legal gambling: online casinos, online poker, betting, land-based slot halls, and casinos, as well as B2B companies.

In the latest episode of the SBC Leaders podcast, Anton Kuchukidze, the Chairman of the Ukrainian Gambling Council spoke to SBC’s Managing Director, Andy McCarron about the reasons for illegal advertising growth in Ukraine, how people returned to entertainment and how to attract investments to the country.

In particular, Kuchukhidze noted that before the [Russia-Ukraine] war, it seemed that there were some legislation problems in the industry. However, now “we have existential challenges, not only professional ones”. 

Moreover, since the beginning of the war, the illegal advertising problem has occurred in Ukraine as well. On the one hand, illegal operators inside the country considered that the government was busy with the war, and they had no time for them, so they began illegal advertising activities.

On the other hand, according to the head of UGC, after foreign companies left the Russian market, Russian companies started to use traffic from Ukrainian consumers. 

“It may sound strange in the context of the war with Russia, but these companies want to demonstrate to our customers that it is just a business and have started a very tough advertising strategy,” Kuchukhidze said.

UGC created a special mechanism for communication with the regulator and other responsible state bodies to struggle against this illegal advertisement.

“Advertising is the face of gambling, and illegal advertising can harm us all. It will make it very difficult to show people that gambling is about entertainment and not about money,” he added.

The two also discussed how gambling companies returned the traffic during the war: “Naturally, traffic is not the same as before the war, even now, but we are seeing systematic progress.”

According to the data, in March-April, online traffic decreased at the level of 80% and renewed only in May. At this time, other entertainment facilities also reopened in Ukraine. “People realized that even during the war they can work, have free time, and meet friends.”

Kuchukhidze continued that the most important problem in the industry is the unresolved issue with tax legislation, that prevents large companies from entering the Ukrainian market:

“Before gambling was legalized in Ukraine in 2020 many international B2B, gambling companies had offices in the country and recruited our Ukrainian professionals.

“Unfortunately, we have some problems with the adoption of the appropriate law but we do our best to move forward on this issue.

“We should do the second step for legalization. The first step was market legalization, but when we adopt tax changes I could say that legalization is finalized.”

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