The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), in synergy with the National Gaming and Lottery Licensing Commission (KRAIL), has closed more than 30 underground gaming establishments and two casinos since the beginning of the month of March 2021.
Clandestine establishments complicit in terrorist organizations
Several gambling establishments have been closed in the Ukrainian regions of Kiev, Donetsk, Zhytomyr and Odessa among others. Some of these establishments were run by groups that the SBU describes as terrorist organizations.
During the investigations, SBU agents requisitioned more than 600 units of computer equipment, 14 poker tables, 5 roulette wheels, tokens, cards, card game accessories, cell phones from establishment personnel, recordings of customer database, video recorders and most importantly cash.
According to some sources, law enforcement agents may be involved in this affair. An investigation has been initiated for this purpose and is ongoing.
The SBU claimed that it was confirmed that part of the funds raised by these underground casinos were used to finance the self-proclaimed states in Ukraine. These are the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) and the Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR).
For Ukraine, the RPD and LPR are considered terrorist organizations, although many international organizations and other nations such as the EU, the United States and Russia, do not consider these groups as such.
Legalization of gambling in the country
The country saw gambling legalize in 2020 after President of the Republic Volodymyr Zelensky signed the gambling law in August of the same year.
According to the bill, online gambling, book creation, slot machine rooms and land-based casinos would all be legal, but casinos can only be accommodated in hotels.
The first license granted by KRAIL was issued last February to the operator Cosmolot Spaceiks. This allows the latter to operate an online casino in the country.
Shortly after, in March, the country’s first sports betting license was granted to Parimatch.