After initially being approved for an online casino license last month, international betting and technology company, Parimatch has now become the first operator to receive approval for a Ukraine betting license. It will be the 5th country where the group holds a license after Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Belarus, and Cyprus where its B2C headquarters is located.
The firm confirmed Thursday that after an 11-year wait its full Ukraine licensing provisions had been satisfied and the new license, which will allow it to offer sports betting, live casino, and online poker in the Eastern European country, has been validated by the newly established Commission for Regulation of Gambling and Lotteries (CRGL).
In February this year, Spaceiks LLC, which operates the Cosmolot brand and was formerly owned by Ukraine’s National Lottery before being discontinued in 2019, was the first license approved by the KRAIL, with Parimatch’s approval following.
Founded in Ukraine in 1994, the CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States) online gambling group first announced that it would be bidding for the new operating licenses in the country on August 13, 2020, after President Volodymyr Zelenskyi, who is a long-time supporter of regulated gambling in Ukraine, signed Bill No. 2285-d to legalize the gambling industry in what is Europe’s second largest country. The bill legalized online gambling, slot halls, bookmaking, and land-based casinos located in hotels only, a provision reportedly requested by Zelensky in 2019 to help prevent illegal slot machines.
In spite of the fact that the country’s Gambling Act was signed into law last summer, Parimatch still awaits a final decision from Ukraine’s legislature, the Verkhovna Rada, on taxation, licensing costs, and technical accreditation of systems. Meanwhile, after amending it to set a flat rate of 10 percent for all forms of gambling, bill 2713-d was put forward by committee chair Oleg Marusyak before being approved by the country‘s Committee on Finance, Tax and Customs Policy.
Marusyak was responsible for introducing 2285-D to Rada in October 2019 as one of a half dozen alternatives to the reforms submitted by the Servant of the People Party-led government. That version of the bill was rejected at its first reading in December 2019, before passing with another vote in January 2020 after a few amendments, including raising the legal age to gamble to 21, had been made.
Unfavorable license costs:
Awaiting final regulatory judgments, Parimatch has yet to announce an official launch date for its iGaming services, as noted by Managing Partner Maksym Liashko, who stated in the official press release…
“Work still remains to be done on reforming tax legislation before the Ukrainian market becomes attractive to foreign investors. Taxation should be transparent and logical so that it doesn’t create additional obstacles for foreign investors.”
Maksym went on to say that license costs for various types of gambling are currently so high that, coupled with taxation, “it does not make investments in the nascent Ukrainian market attractive.” He said that because of that, Ukraine could lose the “competition in terms of investment to other countries.”
Under favorable legal conditions, he said, the country could mirror other jurisdictions, such as Malta and Manila, and become a “gaming hub” for the Eastern Europe region.
One of the largest betting companies in Europe and the CIS, Parimatch’s August statement echoed that when Chief Executive Officer Sergey Portnov declared…
….that while the company is committed to “conquering” its home market and contribute to Ukraine’s economy, in order for it to deliver those benefits “in the long-term” it would require a “fairer tax system.” The CEO said the country’s current one is “too punitive and uncompetitive” when compared to similar international markets.