Reopening of the Ukraine Casino Market

After a ten year hiatus, the Ukrainian government are looking to re-open casino gaming to local and international visitors. From what I hear it’s actually long overdue, and to some an opportunity not to be underestimated.

In 2019, President Volodymyr Zelensky, whose presidential campaign had included a promise to turn gambling into a legal form of entertainment, put forward an initiative to legalize the gambling industry. The Verkhovna Rada formulated Bill No. 2285-D, which was published in October 2019. It took parliamentarians nearly a year to finally pass the bill, but in August 2020, once President Zelensky put his signature to the document, the law governing the gambling sector was officially signed and sealed.

Implementation of the law will be regulated by the Gambling and Lottery Commission, which is set to be created by a special team which was assembled by the government of Ukraine on September 23.

The Commission will be responsible for determining licensing conditions and fees, as well as the issuance of licenses and designation of special gambling areas. To open a land-based casino in Ukraine, there are a number of requirements that operators must satisfy. First, according to the law, only a legal entity registered or incorporated in Ukraine with authorized capital of at least €970,000 can apply for a license. Another prerequisite is a security deposit or a bank guarantee in the amount of €1.1 million.

Home to 42 million people and ranked as one of the poorest European countries, an outsider looking in would have to ask, is there really a good business opportunity here for casinos to operate and flourish, well as with most things, don’t jump to conclusions too quickly.

In an effort to get a grass roots understanding of what the potential for land based casinos are in today’s Ukraine, I reached out to my old friend and associate of many years Dennis Andreaci. For the past 12 months or more, Dennis has been living and providing consulting services in Kyiv to eager hotel owners wanting to get a much sought after casino license.

Andreaci outlines that Ukraine as a destination would be a better destination than Northern Cyprus where as we know there are a large number of well-presented casino properties already operating. Unlike Cyprus, Ukraine offers a diversified array of tourism destinations in every season of the year and importantly, prior to Covid, Ukraine had a massive in bound international tourism and business travel. Kyiv is also a large European capital city similar in scale to a city such as Berlin.

The country has a lot to offer visitors with a vibrant summer beach scene on the Black Sea, great skiing in the winter in the Carpathian Mountains, historical cities like Lviv and of course Kyiv with many world heritage sites. Prior to Covid the country was ranked 4th as the most popular places to visit in Europe.
Kyiv, with over 3 million residents is filled with historical and cultural attractions, it is a vibrant European capital city with excellent dining, hotels, high end retail, fantastic nightlife, which importantly are all reasonably priced.

Ukraine’s location is perfect with short flights from European regions like the Balkans, the Baltics, and countries like Turkey, Israel, Dubai, Qatar, and Egypt.

Prior to Covid more than 60 international destinations flew daily direct flights into Kyiv. (The major airport is Boryspil International Airport). Many of the world’s major airlines such a Qatar, Turkish Airlines, Lufthansa, Austrian Airlines, Air France, and of course Ukraine Airlines all flew in bringing considerable numbers of tourists with them.(…)

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