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Ukraine proposes block on banks lending to self-excluded gamblers

| By Robert Fletcher
Ukraine has proposed new changes to its gambling regulations that would prevent banks from lending money to self-excluded consumers.
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Put forward by the Committee of the Verkhovna Rada on Finance, Tax and Customs Policy, the proposed amendment to Ukrainian gambling laws would require lenders to carry out expanded checks.

These should establish whether the individual self-excluded from gambling. This includes blocking themselves from gambling online and accessing land-based facilities across the country.

If the consumer is on the list, they will not be able to enter a credit agreement with the lender.

The amendment is awaiting final approval.

Earlier this year, the Ukrainian Commission for the Regulation of Gambling and Lotteries (KRAIL) revealed an increase in players self-excluding.  

During the first four months of the year, 245 people signed up to the list. This compares to 195 individuals in 2021 and 315 people in 2022. By the end of April, 687 people were on the list.  

Changing gambling regulations in Ukraine

The proposal marks the latest in a line of changes in Ukraine’s gambling market.

Last month, a new law outlining procedures for organisations subject to anti-money laundering and counter terrorist financing (AML/CTF) risk came into effect. This means operators in the country now face stronger inspections.

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Ukrainian gambling regulations are being fine-tuned following re-regulation

The law outlines the circumstances in which a gambling operator may face a scheduled or unscheduled inspection of their facility.

In other news, a set of proposals from KRAIL were included in the government’s 2023 action plan. These included a reform of laws concerning the process of suspending and cancelling the licences of gambling operators.

One proposal was to suspend the licences of operators if they offer gambling in Ukrainian territory occupied by hostile foreign powers.

Uncertain future for KRAIL

However, the future of KRAIL as the gambling regulator for Ukraine remains up in the air. Ukrainian deputy prime minister, Mykhailo Fedorov, in May submitted draft law proposing that KRAIL be dissolved and replaced with a new executive body.

Fedrorov, also minister for digital transformation, referenced the regulator’s ongoing failure to issue gambling licences in a timely manner.

KRAIL operates as a collegial body consisting of a chairman and six members. Meetings are only valid if five members are present, which is necessary for a licence application.

However, after the country’s invasion by armed forces of Russia, president Volodymyr Zelenskyy signed the decree “On the introduction of martial law in Ukraine”. Some members of the Commission were mobilised into military service as a result.

This made it impossible to continue KRAIL meetings and caused delays to a large amount of the normal work undertaken by the regulator. This includes the issuance of licences.

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