Ukrainian President demands new gambling laws this year

Ukrainian President demands new gambling laws this year

Ukrainian President demands new gambling laws this yearGambling isn’t just a fun pass-time, it can also be a last ditch effort to save an ailing economy! That’s at least how Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky sees it, as he has asked his government to legalize gambling in 2019.

Interfax-Ukraine reports the newly elected president told his government and parliamentary majority to get new ambling laws adopted before December 1, reasoning that it will help move the industry out of the shadows it currently resides in.

He specifically asked for bills to be drafted and delivered to parliament by October 1, 2019, and put Prime Minister Oleksiy Honcharuk and Finance Minister Oksana Markarova in charge of the task. For some reason, he then put Verkhovna Rada Chairman Dmytro Razumkov and Head of the Servant of the People parliamentary faction David Arakhamia in charge of getting the laws passed by his December deadline.

Ukraine made gambling illegal in 2009, but that hasn’t stopped the activity. Despite raids, its estimated the Ukrainian gambling black market, if legalized, could realize $1.5 billion in tax revenues.

This call to legalize gambling shouldn’t exactly be a surprise. Zelensky has previously called on legalizing Black Sea casinos. That’s an effort that has failed as recently as 2017, but perhaps the charm and charisma of the former comedian can help put this effort across the finish line.

Legalizing gambling though and creating a new liberal market for it won’t be easy. The nation’s lotteries are run by a small monopoly of Patriot, MSL and UNL, all somehow affiliated with Ukraine’s former president Petro Poroshenko.

Zelensky, if successful, would potentially be delivering on a promise that could help re-invigorate investment in the East European country. But with a firmly established status quo who might perceive new competition as a threat, they won’t make it easy on him.

Regardless, something has to change. There’s money to be made in Ukraine, and Zelensky is trying to go after it. He already shocked the world once by winning his position at all, let’s see if he can do it again.