The Coordination Council for the Socially Responsible Legalization of Casinos held its inaugural meeting in late December as efforts to bring Ukraine’s gaming industry in from the shadows gathered momentum. The idea to establish the Council came during the 2017 Ukrainian Gaming Summit held on 7 December.
The inaugural meeting of the Council focused on establishing key principles and objectives. A memorandum adopted by Council members stressed the potential role of the casino business in the development of the hotel and tourism industry in Ukraine. It also emphasized the importance of prioritizing social responsibility within the gaming industry. The Council memorandum highlighted the state budget contributions possible from a legalized gaming industry, while pointing to the important role legalization could play in the fight against corruption. Among the key goals identified by the Council are public advocacy work highlighting the economic and image benefits for Ukraine deriving from socially responsible legalization of the gaming industry, and the positive impact legalization could have on anti-corruption activities.
Council Chairperson Irina Sergienko, who was elected during the inaugural meeting, commented: “The Ukrainian economy is currently going through a transformation and adopting radically new principles regarding the legal regulation of business and respect for the wider interests of society. Based on the best available global practices, the Ukrainian casino industry is ideally suited to serve as a model of socially responsible state regulation. This means transparency and attention to social impact. That fact that we have been able to bring together a range of prominent hotel and tourism brands and senior professionals in support of responsible legalization is evidence of its appeal. This can serve as the first step towards bringing other aspects of the gaming industry out of the shadows.”
Companies represented in the Council include Ukraine’s largest hotel chain Premier Hotels and Resorts and Oleksandr Yaroslavsky’s DCH Group with assets including Kharkiv International Airport and the five-star Premier Palace Hotel Kharkiv. They join a range of companies from across Ukraine and potential foreign investors. The Council now aims to incorporate members of the gaming industry’s international expert community in a bid to borrow from best global practices.
Ukraine introduced a blanket ban on the gaming industry in 2009 but it continues to operate illegally as part of the shadow economy. It is estimated that losses to the Ukrainian state budget caused by the ban amount to UAH 5 billion per year.