Licensed Gambling Venues of Ukraine: Casinos, Betting Shops and Slot Machine Halls
Almost a year has passed since the law on the legalization of gambling activities entered into force in Ukraine. During this time, a state body – the Commission for Regulation of Gambling and Lotteries (CRGL) was established. It managed to approve a number of important measures regulating the strategic development of the agency in the shortest possible time. The regulator also carried out massive work on reviewing applications and issuing licenses to representatives of the gambling business.
Legal casino in Ukraine is a promising but quite costly area of business. To ensure the operation of the establishment, in addition to such obvious investments as wages for the qualified employees, rental of premises and the purchase of high-quality gambling equipment, it is necessary to obtain an expensive license. Those who have been working in the gambling industry for quite some time say that before the ban on gambling business in 2009, the opening of a slot machine hall was estimated at about $40-50 thousand. Now this amount is about $3 million.
The regulator issues licenses for several types of activities. The operators need to pay a different amount for each of them:
- land-based casinos in Kyiv – 60 thousand minimum wages;
- land-based casinos in other cities – 30 thousand minimum wages;
- online casino – 6.5 thousand minimum wages;
- betting activity – 30 thousand minimum wages;
- slot machine hall – 7.5 thousand minimum wages;
- online poker – 5 thousand minimum wages.
In addition, you can get the following licenses:
- on a gambling table and/or on a gambling table with a roulette;
- on a betting point;
- on a slot machine;
- on carrying out activities for the provision of services in the field of gambling (a B2B license);
- on carrying out activities for organizing sweepstakes at the race track;
- investment license.
The government expects that in 2021, the permits issued to gambling operators will allow the country's budget to be replenished by UAH 7.4 billion. But at the moment, this amount is still very far away. As of mid-June, the Ukrainian treasury received UAH 636 million.
The first license issued by the Ukrainian regulator was a permission to organize and conduct games in online casinos. It was received by Spaceix LLC, which operates under the Cosmolot brand. According to the Executive Director of the company Serhiy Potapov, the licensing process was long, but the fact that legal online casinos have appeared on the Ukrainian market is worth it.
In total, since the beginning of February, CRGL has licensed 11 online casinos. These are brands such as Cosmolot, Slots City, PM, First Casino, Vulkan Casino, Favbet, Pin-Up, Slotoking, Gold Cup, Joker and Vbet.
A separate license shall be obtained to organize online poker games. At the moment, regulatory commission has allowed two companies to operate on this market segment: Vbet Ukraine and Pokermatch.Ua.
The second type of gambling business that was legalized after online casinos was bookmaking. Exactly one month after the issuance of the first license, on March 2, CRGL reviewed the application of Parimatch LLC. A week after the meeting, on March 9, the company became the first and so far the only legal bookmaker in Ukraine.
Perhaps the fact that a few months later Parimatch remains a monopoly on the regulated market is caused by the cost of the betting license. In 2021, it amounts to UAH 180 million, which is 4.6 times more expensive than at online casinos. This is the most expensive betting license in Europe.
In March, licenses for land-based casinos began to be issued. There are five such licensees in total. The documents have already been received by Primum LLC, Nebula Games LLC, Billionare Casino Company LLC, Storm Ukraine LLC and Casino Premier Palace LLC.
Regardless of the place of registration of a legal entity, companies can open casino halls in Ukraine in any city. However, you need to comply with certain conditions established by law:
For Kyiv – five-star hotels with at least 150 rooms. The minimum area is 500 square meters.
For other cities – five and four-star hotels with at least 100 rooms. There are no minimum casino floor space requirements for four-star hotels, and 500 square meters for five-star hotels.
For all regions – the territory of a countryside recreation complex with a total area of at least 10 thousand square meters with a five-star hotel.
What cities have land-based casinos? The first legal casino was opened at InterContinental hotel in Kyiv. Billionaire Casino has been welcoming guests since May 14, offering them two gambling halls and three personal gambling rooms with 50 slot machines and 16 gambling tables with roulette, blackjack and poker.
At the same time as Billionaire Casino, First Casino started its operations. The institution is located at Gagarinn hotel in Odesa. The largest legal casino in Ukraine located within walking distance from the Black Sea coast offers its visitors 255 slot machines, 26 card and 14 poker tables, 12 roulettes, three of which are electronic.
The legendary Shangri La brand known all over the world has also started working on the Ukrainian gambling market. The establishment opened in the capital's Fairmont Grant Hotel, becoming the first licensed foreign casino in the country. Guests have access to 62 modern slot machines and 20 tables with all types of classic games. There is also a VIP club, but you can get there only by a personal invitation.
Another land-based casino is already receiving guests in Lviv. Operator 1CASINO received a license to open First Casino at Grand Hotel Lviv Casino & Spa. There are 55 slot machines, nine card and three roulette tables on 500 square meters.
Slot machine halls
Land-based casinos are not the only offline casinos that have started operating. Six gambling halls from Slots City, owned by Gamedev have opened at Tourist, Amarant and Mir hotels in Kyiv, Intourist in Zaporizhzhia, Morskyi in Odesa and Kharkiv hotel in Kharkiv. They have a total of 445 slots.
Another establishment in Kyiv has opened at Premier Hotel Lybid. The company named Lord received a license for 50 slot machines.
In addition to the gaming halls that are already operating, licenses for activities were issued to Imperiya Azartu LLC, First Win LLC, Solo Games LLC. The companies plan to open establishments in Kharkiv, Lviv, Rivne, Khmelnytskyi, Sumy, Lutsk, Kryvyi Rih, Kamianske, Bila Tserkva, Kropyvnytskyi, Petropavlivska Borshchahivka.
The number of active operators and applications for obtaining licenses demonstrates a gradual but steady formation of the legal gambling market in Ukraine. Simultaneously with the legalization of new brands and their services, the Verkhovna Rada is working on new legislation related to taxation of gambling business. More loyal conditions are expected to attract even more operators to the country.