Why the Engagement of Hospitality Specialists in the Process of Gambling Audit and Licensing Is Important?
After the adoption of the draft law 2285-d at second reading, the text of the bill can be assessed together with all amendments. Speaker of UGW 2020 Anna Romanova reveals its specifics from the standpoint of tourism and hotel business development.
Anna is the Executive Director of the Association of Hospitality Industry of Ukraine. From the very beginning, she took an active part in the formulation of proposals to the bill on gambling legalization intended to incentivize tourism growth and drive investments to the hotel business.
Especially for Ukrainian Gaming Week, the expert explained why the engagement of hospitality specialists in the process of gambling audit and licensing is important.
“The recently adopted bill allows placing gambling facilities only at three-, four-, and five-star hotels with a large hotel capacity (100-150 rooms for casinos and not less than 25 – for slot machines). The notion of the “investment license” is introduced for the construction of hotels “from scratch”. If you build a hotel with at least 200 rooms (Kyiv) or at least 150 rooms (other territories), you get an exemption from license fees for the period of 10 years.
Besides, gambling activity will be allowed in suburban resorts that consist of two or more buildings with total area of not less than 10,000 sq.m. and special territorial gambling zones created by the decision of the Cabinet of Ministers (not more than 5 throughout Ukraine).
Notably, the Association of Hospitality Industry of Ukraine initially offered to bind gambling to hotels and suburban resorts, as well as advocated a stance of incentives for investors and depressive regions. The first version of the bill stipulated buildings of any kind. However, in our opinion, gambling has to be an additional incentive to build and categorize big hotels, which are scarce to increase the flows of external tourists and to expand the season length, rather than for the Ukrainians to play.
The Commission for the regulation of gambling and lottery will monitor all gambling activities. The Cabinet of Ministers is creating this agency. The Commission will manage the industry, form the registry of operators, issue licenses, and control the special gambling zones in the regions.
The Commission will consist of a chairperson and six members elected at a contest. Due to the quarantine – without the contest. They will be assigned and dismissed by the government. As far as the launch of gambling facilities is tied to the officially categorized hotels, as was offered by the Association of Hospitality Industry of Ukraine, the whole process directly touches upon issues of the hotel industry and categorization (assigning a star rating).
Besides, there has to be a consistent approach to the determination of special gambling zones. A territory should get economic gains from this status and target foreign tourists, rather than the other way round – become poorer due to gambling addiction of local population.
Therefore, it is quite reasonable to choose at least two representatives of the hospitality industry as members of the Commission. They should not represent business to avoid the conflict of interests. They have to be the people well versed in the tourism and hotel industries, specifics of regions, needs of hotel investors and tourist interests, as well as issues of categorization and service.
Now 93% of Ukrainian hotels do not have a star rating, and service standards in hotels are outdated. For this reason, it is essential for the Commission for the regulation of gambling and lottery to offer solutions that will make the categorization procedure transparent, quick, and non-corrupt,” the Executive Director of the Association of Hospitality Industry of Ukraine said.
On October 6, Anna will speak at the conference UGW 2020 with the presentation “The potential of Ukraine in the gambling tourism sector: what regions can introduce Integrated Casino Resorts? Peculiarities of generating capital for complex resorts in 2020-2021”.