Ukraine gambling regulator grants its first licence 

by Charlotte Lee Last Updated
Problem gamblers detail their gambling story for Victorian royal commission

Ukraine’s new gambling regulator has approved its first gambling licence.

European Gaming reports that the licence has been awarded to Spacex for its Kosmolot brand.

The operator must pay US$1.1 million to obtain a five-year online licence fee.

Spacex applied for an online casino licence last December.

Its application was initially delayed because the commission asked for more information on the firm’s ownership structure to check it met the requirement that licensees are based in Ukraine.

Cosmolot chief executive Sergey Potapov said he was excited to finally see the start of Ukraine’s regulated market after a long journey to legislation.

“Obtaining a licence is an important step,” he said.

“The road to legalisation has been long, but the creation of a white market is totally worth it.

“I really do appreciate the team’s effort: the guys prepared for this day for several months.

“We should pay tribute to the Commission because it’s great when a government authority works quickly and accurately.”

Ukraine’s gambling act, which allowed online gambling, bookmaking, slot halls and land-based casinos located in hotels, was signed into law in August 2020, after Ukraine’s parliament passed it in a 248=95 vote.

The act includes certain location restrictions on operators, as well as the need to form a Ukraine-based business to receive a licence.

Ukraine legalises gambling after hiatus

Casinos are on their way to Ukraine after President Volodymyr Zelensky legalised gambling.

Calvin Ayre reported last August that legislators were able to approve a casino bill in July without too much resistance.

With the ink now dry, Ukraine could see new casinos popping up before the end of the year.

The country decided to ban almost all types of gambling 11 years ago.

As a result, Ukraine suddenly had a huge void in its revenue that it wasn’t able to fill and to add insult to injury, black market operations began springing up with no way to stop them.

When President Zelensky was sworn in last year, he vowed to reverse the damage and allow a regulated gaming industry.

The path to legalised, regulated gambling in the country was not an easy one and there was a lot of initial opposition.

Lawmakers stalled and argued, failing to reach agreements on key areas such as licensing, taxes and more.

Perhaps as a result of a fledgling global economy caused by COVID-19, legislators suddenly found a way to put aside their differences to fast track the bill earlier this year.

Ukraine will now have eight regulated gambling sectors – online casino, retail casino, online sports gambling, retail sports gambling, slot machine venues, online poker, lotteries and totalizer contracts.

If everything goes to plan, the country expects to pick up around $166 million from gambling tax revenue and licensing this year alone.

Crime boss with links to Melbourne money laundering arrested in the Netherlands

A reputed crime boss who allegedly laundering money through Crown’s Melbourne casino has been arrested in the Netherlands. reported in January that Dutch authorities have arrested Tse Chi Lop, a man alleged to be one of the world’s biggest drug kingpins.

Chinese-born Canadian citizen Tse Chi Lop, 56, is reputed to be the leader of “the Company”, a triad super syndicate formed by an alliance of the top five riad gangs.

The Company is known to have infiltrated casino junket operations and has, in the past, used casinos to launder its ill-gotten gains.

The triad conglomerate, also known as the Sam Gor syndicate, has flooded the illegal drug trade in recent years with synthetic products like methamphetamines and fentanyl.

In 2013, a Hong Kong-based junket operator and money launderer named Roy Moo was convicted in Australia of washing hundreds of millions of the Company’s drug money through the Crown Casino in Melbourne.

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